Food fads come and go. Consider how much the pendulum has swung from the low-fat 1990s to the carb-conscious new millennium. Similar to modern-day politics, food choices have become increasingly polarizing. There are vegetarians of all types, raw foodies, people who skip gluten, or all grains, those who don’t do dairy, and those who try not to eat anything white. The question is how do these trends relate to children? Should parents invite their kids to adopt some of these food fads or not?
Nearly half of all newborns in the United States are introduced too soon to solid foods, causing them digestive problems and nutritional deficiencies that can have lasting health effects as they grow older. A new study found that too many mothers underestimate the importance of breastfeeding. Pediatricians recommend that infants should be given nothing but breast milk or, if that is not an option, baby formula or a combination of both at least until the age of six months.
Food fads come and go. There are vegetarians of all types, raw foodies, people who skip gluten, or all grains, those who don’t do dairy, and those who try not to eat anything white. The question is how do these trends relate to children? Should parents invite their kids to adopt the latest food fads or not? Whatever parents decide, they need to understand that children are not little adults, and that there are important considerations when applying food trends to a growing child.
Many parents don’t know what their kids are eating at school, assuming they are getting well-balanced meals. That’s not always the case. I’ve had parents vent their frustration about vending machines, concession stands, classroom parties and bake sales that supply an endless stream of so-called “fun foods.” The ultimate frustration is the lack of support from the schools themselves when it comes to regulating the types of food the children are exposed to.
I am fascinated by the research of Cornell University professor Brian Wansink on the subject of mindless eating and his philosophy of creating an environment that makes healthy eating a default choice. Although, as a dietitian, I encourage everyone to put thought into what they are eating, I also know that when healthy habits are easy to follow, they are more likely to stick.