We all want what is best for our children. But, sometimes, what is best is not so clear. In this article, Nutritionist- Natalia Pinzon demystifies five very common nutrition misconceptions for preschoolers, so that you can better guide your little one into a happy, healthy life:
Myth #1: Fruit juice is healthySolution: Fruit is the best choice. All fruits are loaded with vitamins, have fiber that keeps their little guts healthy, have a third of the sugar that juice has, and most important, children love them! If you are having a hard time eliminating fruit juice from your child’s diet, limit it to 4 ounces of 100% fruit juice per day. If they are thirsty, the healthiest choice is always water.
Myth #2: I should limit my preschooler’s intake of fat. You might benefit from a low-fat diet, but that is not necessarily the case for your preschooler. Fats help build connections between the nerve endings of your child’s brain, which is necessary for brain development at their young age. Whole milk, cheese and yogurt are especially important for 1-2 year olds because they contain saturated fat, which plays a major role in building the nerve connections we mentioned earlier. Most children 2 years and older can switch to 1% fat milk and dairy products, which still contain a healthy amount of fat for their brains, while preventing excess weight gain. Fish, olive and canola oils, avocados and peanut butter are other examples of fat sources your child will surely love and benefit from.
Myth #3: Offering candy, as a reward for eating their veggies, is a good idea. Offer your child a variety of healthy options to pick from. Maybe they can pick between carrots, peas, or broccoli when deciding a veggie for dinner. They are more likely to eat a food if they were part of the decision-making process. You can also offer a healthy reward unrelated to food: “after we finish all of our veggies, we can go to the park.”
Myth #4: Once a picky eater, always a picky eater. Good news! Picky eating in preschool is not only common, but also a perfectly normal part of a child’s development. Solution: It can take up to 10 exposures to a new food before a preschooler accepts and likes it. So don’t give up! Try to expose your child to one new food per week.
Myth#5: I have no power over my child’s taste and food preferences Solution: Expose them to the foods you want them to like, and don’t forget the power of example. If your child sees you eating and enjoying veggies regularly, he or she will probably pick up on that behavior eventually.
By Natalia Pinzón, RD