As children grow, their environment plays a big role in their development, affecting both intelligence and behavioral development. We know that children in particular, need a healthy eating pattern as the eating habits they learn now will stick into adulthood.
Providing kids with a healthy diet that includes adequate fruits and vegetables:
Provides essential nutrients that are needed while growing
Helps maintain a healthy weight
Provides them with energy for their active lifestyles
Promotes self-confidence (maintains a healthy body weight)
New research suggests there is a direct and positive correlation between the diet of our children and their behavior and intelligence.
Recently, the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health examined the dietary patterns of 3,966 children ages 3, 4, 7 and 8 1/2. This study found that children who consumed mainly processed foods high in sugar and fat at 3 years of age, had a negative correlation with IQ assessment at 8 1/2 years old. Those 3-year-olds who ate a “health-conscious diet” of made of real food most often had a positive correlation with IQ assessment at 8 1/2 years old. While there was a difference in IQ levels, the difference was very minimal.
Is your child’s energy level inconsistent? Is yours? Do your kids have temper tantrums for no reason? Skin conditions? Allergies? Do any of you have some sort of health condition which medication hasn’t helped yet?
These symptoms may be in part related to the foods we eat. The question is, what is “healthy”? What should my lunch and my child’s lunch be composed of?
Here’s the good news: Your or your child’s lunches should be composed of the same foods, cooked in the same manner, just in larger quantities for you as an adult. So no more doing the different version of lunches... all the same, just increase or decrease quantity. Same as any other meals: Protein, fat and carbohydrate – in other words: Real Food.
Real Food means it was alive at some point and not created in a lab. The majority of the time, avoid food that is in a can, box or bag, or otherwise known as processed food. Your lunch should be 75% vegetables or fruits, 20% protein and 5% healthy fat. In my new book “Healthy Lunches for the Family” I show more in depth what constitutes each food group and what to look for in top quality foods for each group, in order to ensure your child’s health.
Three key words for success in the healthy lunch world: Involvement, planning and execution.
My number one recommendation, particularly with kids, is to involve them in the process of planning their lunches – especially if eating real food is new to them.
You first need to explain to them what’s happening and why you want to change the content of the lunches. They need to understand why it’s so important, they may not buy into it right away, but love always wins.
Second, I suggest you sit and have the kids list all the food they like to eat or are willing to try. You can have fun here and have them clip pictures from magazines or the internet.
Have a selection of good food that they can pick from and have them list what they are ok with. Using the template you will then categorize each food under Main or Sides or Snacks.
You may need to help them come up with more choices. From there you will commit to make their lunches from the list of food they have created.
I would suggest that you and the kids update the list every 2-3 months as their tastes evolve and they discover new foods.
Take a look at some of the lunches I have created that are inclusive of Protein, Fat and Carbohydrate. They’re quick, easy and simple! And most importantly, have fun! •
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Stephanie Dodier is an Oakville Holistic Nutritionist, CNP, author, GAPS practitioner & corporate wellness speaker. Graduating with honours from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Toronto and C.H.E.K. Institute in California, Stephanie’s integrative and comprehensive approach to health focuses on a real food and lifestyle choices for busy people without ever having to count a calorie.