“On average, adults who suffered malnutrition as a child had hearts with less efficient pumping action. They also showed higher peripheral resistance, as measured in their smaller blood vessels. The bottom number in their blood pressure measurements was higher across the board, showing higher diastolic blood pressure readings. All three results showed that malnutrition during the first five years of a person’s life can drastically impact heart and blood vessel development, putting the children at increased risk for high blood pressure and stroke later in adulthood.”
The first five years of a child’s life are the foundation that shapes future health, happiness, growth and development (physically, emotionally, socially and mentally) throughout life. This impacts their physical health in surprising ways as you will see in this article.
By choosing the most nutrient-dense, healthy foods to feed your child you are creating the foundation for lifelong, healthy habits which will impact their health as adults! If you grew up in the 1960’s as I did you may have grown up on Twinkies, Hostess Cupcakes and TV dinners (as I did!). You can always begin to make better choices no matter where you are in life. I believe our parents did the best they could with what they knew at the time. So no blame from me. However, when you know better, you have no excuse not to do better – particularly for your children. We have access to much more information, so I believe we have a greater responsibility to start our children off on the right foot.
You may not have considered letting your children eat fast food and processed junk regularly or drinking soda daily as leading to malnutrition, but that’s exactly what the article states and I agree. All too often it’s been found that obese people can actually be suffering from malnutrition. That may seem shocking to you since they are so overweight, but filling your belly is not the same as nourishing your body.
Here are 3 simple things you can begin doing today to improve your child’s nutrition and health:
1. Set a good example. If your children see you gulping down liters of soda, getting your lunch at the drive-thru and snacking on junk food, no matter how many rules you may set for them, they won’t listen. You’ve lost “street cred!” You have to walk the talk first and foremost – and that will benefit your health as well as theirs.
2. Get them used to making water their drink of choice. Don’t buy sodas and highly processed fruit juices. If they’re not in the house, there’s no temptation. I remember consulting with a mom whose children were all overweight and who drank several diet sodas daily as their drink of choice. When she asked me what she could do to help them get healthier and lose weight my #1 suggestion was to substitute water for those sodas. She said they would fight and argue with her if she tried to take their soda away and she didn’t want to put herself in that position!! Do it gradually, but do it – replace junky, empty calorie drinks with water. After all you are the parent.
3. Get them involved in shopping for and preparing healthy meals. The more invested in the process they are, the more open to trying new things they will be. Let them choose some interesting new veggies and try a new way of preparing them, together. You may all discover some new favorites! For example, if they like chips, try making kale chips together! You can flavor them in a hundred different ways (my daughter especially likes chili-lime seasoning on hers!) and they satisfy the need for a crunchy snack, yet they are a much healthier option. The mom in the video used fast food fries, but you can make healthier “fries!” Get them used to them early and they will prefer them.
How are you helping your children develop healthy eating habits?
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And if you are serious about improving your child’s health, I would love to help. Find out more about my Healthy Child Nutrition Evaluation right here. Back to school is the perfect time to get them started on healthier habits!