Around 27% of young children do not eat a single serving of vegetables in a day. In the report released, Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study, food choices of children change, and if they don’t start eating healthy at an early age, this will result in nutrition gap. Once they reach two years old, they will already have developed their taste preferences. At this point, feeding toddlers vegetables and other healthy food become more challenging. The nutrition gap is the most concerning problem among children today.
Alarming Results Showed French Fries as the #1 Vegetable
The study involved 10,000 parents as well as caregivers of children below the age of four. The survey noted the eating habits of children. Unfortunately, most children consume french fries as the most common vegetable that they know. The study also indicated that many children consume more sweets and sodium and less iron, Vitamin D, and fiber. All of these are sourced from colorful fruits and vegetables – and not from french fries. The data confirms that there is more work to be done to improve the diet of children
How to Make Children Eat More Vegetables and Fruits
Having children eat vegetables can be difficult, but it is the responsibility of parents and caregivers to help their children develop good eating habits. Making your children eat healthily might take several tries but don’t lose your patience and still keep offering them healthy foods. There are also other strategies that you can try depending on the age of your children. For infants, you can puree or mash vegetables and fruits so that they can easily digest it. Toddlers and preschoolers, on the other hand, can be fed with mashed or chopped vegetables. You can also serve them finger foods or a platter of vegetables and fruits. Since they love fries, you can cut up carrots and sweet potatoes into thick julienne to resemble fries and cook them just like fries. You can also opt for fruits and healthy smoothies instead of candies.
Enhancing Food Policies
It is essential to take note that the responsibility of our children’s health does not only fall on the parents but also the government. To help the parents encourage children to eat healthy, corresponding food policies should also be implemented. Policies such as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 include a comprehensive discussion and guideline for small children. But this may not be enough especially since food products high in sugar and preservatives are still commonplace in the market. Childhood obesity is still a rampant epidemic in the country that needs to be addressed through healthier food policies.
According to Dr. Wendy Johnson, Vice President of Nutrition from Nestle USA, proper nutrition is crucial during children’s early years and exposing them to a plethora of fruits and vegetables is an excellent way to jumpstart a healthy diet. But more than encouraging them to eat healthily, it is important that parents get the right support from the food industry and government.
Inspired by www.nestleusa.com