Getting the little ones in the house to eat healthy is more of a headache for many parents.
Beyond the rush of everyday life, ready-made products and single-dose containers, family nutrition seems to have become a pending issue for many households. As Susana Domínguez, author of ‘Qué como y por qué, explains to Infosalus.
Nine keys to a healthy family diet '(RBA, 2014), before thinking about what the food education of children entails, we must consider whether we ourselves adopt a conscious, coherent and consistent eating practice.
"Everyone knows that children learn by imitating behaviors rather than listening to reasoning."
"In general, children do not need a 'special' or different diet, but stable and sensible family eating patterns to learn as they grow," he clarifies. For Domínguez, a Baix Llobregat Primary Care pediatrician, the scenario offered by supermarkets or the explosive spread of fast food (‘junk food’) does not help to configure a diet consistent with the needs and with one's own health. Regarding the role of school canteens, Domínguez points out: "few children sit at the table for breakfast, there is no time or possibility to eat at home and dinner is resolved with frequent improvisation. As a result, the only pattern to be imitated is to many children is the school meal. " For the pediatrician, the classical idea of medicine that necessarily "fights" symptoms or diseases should be revised.
"Childhood obesity is not just a disease, it is the statistical manifestation of a sick society that has lost the natural and instinctive connection with something as primary and fundamental as food." "There is actually a lot of confusion about what it means, what it represents and what it requires to eat well. You have to give clear and easy messages. If the range of opportunities is going to continue being what it is, acquiring a nutritional learning seems inescapable" , concludes. Susana Domínguez has prepared a decalogue for Infosalus based on the main errors that exist in child and family nutrition, as well as the healthiest alternative to all of them.
1. Excessive improvisation
Most families (up to 80% according to some studies) do not plan their weekly menus.
The result of disorganization is an unbalanced eating practice that leads to excess weight. Learning basic food knowledge is required to acquire nutritional criteria and better organize. Without a doubt, eating well today requires reflection, a smart purchase to choose well without leaving your pocketbook and cooking a little more.
2. The systematization of the a la carte menu
With few exceptions, it is recommended that the family, young and old, sit at the table to share food, with variations in the quantity and the rhythm that can be respected.
But attending to individual cravings by system, or asking the little ones what they want to eat, ends up breaking the nutritional balance or turning dinner into a farce.
3. Skip breakfast
Skipping breakfast or eating it unbalanced with excess sugars and harmful fats is commonplace in many homes. Provision of different types of whole cereal bread, seeds, nuts, virgin olive oil, eggs, cheese, tuna, lean cold cuts, fruit or yogurt is helpful. To end the night fast, it is pleasant and necessary to drink liquid: water, infusions, freshly squeezed fruit, milk, vegetable drinks and then continue with the cereal and protein (lean sausage, tuna or cheese) or prepare it to go (sandwich) .
4. Peck at all hours
When the snacks (four or five) have been well distributed and their contents have been carefully planned, blood sugar levels are more stable (fewer rises and falls) and, consequently, it is less likely that you want to snack between meals.
Children who learn to eat at their own time respect intervals better, and the family feels no justification for breaking their rhythm with the popular sweet and savory "snacks."
5. Late and / or copious meals
Humans have an ‘internal clock’ that adjusts eating times with energy expenditure.
It would therefore seem illogical to delay lunch and / or dinner beyond what is necessary.
The solution is to better reconcile family schedules and agendas to eat earlier and dinner early.
In our country there is a tendency to dine late and too much. So how are our schoolchildren going to be hungry for breakfast the next day?
It is a priority to advance the schedules and organize to have dinner together as a family soon.
Dinner should be comforting but light, to complete everyone's needs, without excess. For this, vegetables, salads and soups are the protagonists.
6. Sugary soft drinks
The caloric needs of our schoolchildren are not unlimited and if we cover them, to a greater or lesser extent, with empty calories, we subtract options from other foods that do provide bioactive compounds (minerals, vitamins or antioxidants). When it comes to quenching your thirst, water is unrivaled.
7. Fast food
Sugar or fast-absorbing carbohydrates also hide in well-made pastries, cookies, white bread, pasta and rice, sauces, ice cream and dairy desserts, and many processed foods (ready-made soups, pizzas, and convenience foods).
All of them are very attractive, tasty, cheap and easily accessible, but they lead to a rapid rise in blood sugar levels and if they are not 'burned' they will be stored as fat.
When these levels fall sharply after two hours, the voracity to continue consuming these foods is awakened. It seems sensible to identify this type of food only with occasional or exceptional leisure. 8. Too much meat and not enough vegetables "At least finish the steak" some moms plead.
Animal protein should not occupy more than a quarter of the plate or tray, like legumes and / or cereals on the menu. Cereals and legumes complement each other very well and also contribute to the protein intake.
Small portions of white meat or fish are enough.
Red meat should be consumed weekly, but not daily. The true protagonists must be vegetables and to a lesser extent fruit, representing half of the snack by volume.
9. Misinterpret the recommendations, confuse the terms
The recommendation to eat more grains and whole cereal does not refer to increasing the number of toasts or servings of 'boats' in the breakfast bowl, but rather to including the whole grain version of rice, pasta or whole wheat bread in the meals and daring with other 'grains': quinoa, oats, millet, barley, spelled, buckwheat or buckwheat, which combine wonderfully with vegetables or salads, deservedly popularizing numerous recipes on the net.
10. Indiscriminate aversion to all fats
It is unfair and unwise to put all the fats in the same ‘bag’.
While the hydrogenated fat from margarines, pastries, some sauces and other processed foods seriously harms health, the unsaturated fat from oily fish, nuts and seeds, avocados and olive oil should be part of regular consumption due to its beneficial properties . Eliminating visible fat from meats, reducing the consumption of cold cuts (and taking care of their quality) and considering the intake of skimmed dairy products in the population at risk of obesity or alterations in lipids will help to rationalize the intake of saturated fat.