If you have children, you may be tempted to try and lower their heart disease and diabetes risk by cutting out as much fat and sugar as possible from their meal plans. However, a recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, published in the journal Pediatrics, has shown that a little fat and sugar may actually help improve the overall quality of your children’s diet.
The researchers suggest not telling children that foods containing fat and sugar are “bad,” since a little bit of these foods benefit your child’s health. In addition, sugar can be a good thing in small doses; a teaspoon of brown sugar, for example, may get your child to eat high-fiber oatmeal instead of sugary cereal for breakfast. Therefore, it is suggested that parents loosen up on their restrictions of fat and sugar, and start getting children more involved in grocery shopping for the fruits and veggies they enjoy. Allowing children to help prepare meals and healthy snacks can make them more likely to try a wide variety of healthy foods. Parents are encouraged to provide children with a few different healthy choices during meal and snack time, and to not get upset if their child rejects new foods at first. Try different cooking methods, or perhaps a different sauce, like a Greek yogurt dip for raw veggies or a cheese sauce for cooked veggies.
Experts report that it takes children an average of 12 exposures to a new food to accept it, so persistence and patience can really pay off in the long term. Although these guidelines were written for children, they provide important information that adults can use to improve their eating. Trying many new foods, trying different cooking methods and recipes, and getting more involved in meal planning and preparing meals at home can help improve the quality of any meal plan.