Children are our future. They are specially celebrated all over the wor on a day referred to as Children's Day. It occurs on different dates...in Nigeria it is celebrated on May 27, every year.
Psalm 127:3 GNT
Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a real blessing.
Parents have a huge responsibility to nurture these precious gifts from God. Whenever possible, before they are conceived, mothers are advised to plan for them, by first of all ensuring that they themselves are healthy. The health of the mother is important, as generally the unborn child inherits the integrity of it’s mother’s health.
The gut health of a mother at inception of pregnancy is crucial as it plays an integral role in our overall well being. According to Hippocrates, the father of medicine, all disease begins in the gut. Gut health is very important.
Very briefly gut health refers to the function and balance of bacteria in various parts of the gastrointestinal tract. When the gut is healthy, organs such as the oesophagus, stomach and intestines all work together to allow food to be eaten and digested like it should, without discomfort.
As children transition from babies into toddlers, to young children etc., one of the best and vital lifetime gifts a parent can give their child, is teaching them how to eat well. Help them develop a healthy relationship with food early in life. French children are taught at school to sit at a dining table, and eat up to four courses as early as ages 2-4. This is also the practise in Japanese homes.
Japanese children, typically eat with the entire family from meals that consist of a variety of foods, such as fish, rice, and smaller vegetable-based side dishes. They eat from an early age, what the adults in their family eat. This approach helps these children develop a healthy relationship with food, very early in life.
This attitude to food imbibed by French and Japanese children early in life; has ensured that they do not experience obesity like their counterparts in the US and increasingly in many other countries. More than a third of children around the world are overweight or obese.
Teach them young and they are likely to remain that way. Let’s look at scripture.
Proverbs 22:6 KJV
Train up a child in the way he should go: And when he is old, he will not depart from it.
God expects us to teach our children to do various tasks when they are young so that they are well equipped for life.
To be honest children are born adventurous, curious and eager to copy. Have you noticed babies wanting to eat whatever it is the adults are consuming? I am sure that you have. Typically children will try a variety of foods. Let’s endeavour to introduce them to a variety of healthy foods early.
As the foods eaten by babies and young children are provided mainly by parents and guardians, they are often to blame for the increasing number of obese children. This is a serious matter and is becoming increasingly more prevalent.
These children will typically grow up to be obese adolescents and adults with a lifetime of ill health and conditions that were previously considered to be adult ailments. Theses include diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Sometimes children like adults when unhappy or depressed use food as a crutch. Parents should keep a watchful eye on their children and when it is noticed that they are over eating, perhaps some intervention is required.
Involving children in food preparation is a good way of introducing them to different foods. It is also fun, a good parent/child bonding and educative experience. There are many child friendly cook books available.
??Oftentimes finicky parents who are picky with food, offer a limited variety of foods to their children and end up raising children with similar eating habits to their’s. I will repeat this for emphasis…Parents who are fussy eaters often pass on these traits to their children.
It is a good idea for such parents to go the extra mile teaching their children to eat a good variety of foods. I know someone who does not eat eggs. She made the decision to introduce eggs to her daughter…who enjoyed it. This child could very easily have been influenced not to eat eggs.
Fussy parents can also involve family and friends who are adventurous to introduce their children to foods not eaten by them. Encourage them early to be adventurous in trying a wide variety of foods. I find children who are adventurous with food, fun to be around and quite sophisticated too. Do you?
When children start eating healthy early, they are unlikely to be content with eating heavily processed foods frequently. These children typically grow up expecting healthy cooked meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
It cannot be overemphasised...overly processed foods do our bodies absolutely no good. Indeed when eaten regularly over prolonged periods can cause various metabolic diseases and exacerbate various conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, fatty liver disease, obesity etc.
Let’s also not forget the efforts that the food giants go to in making snacks and meals attractive and getting children hooked on their products. They spend a lot of money on research and development costs to figure out the exact amount of ingredients needed to get their customers addicted. They also spend a lot on creative advertising to make their products attractive. These products are then strategically placed in positions that catch the attention of children.
Additionally, children are typically more sedentary today than they were decades ago. They should be encouraged early to be more active.
Unfortunately with the increasing popularity of social media in the times that we live in, the use of various gadgets, and time spent watching TV, parents really do have a job keeping children active. They should be encouraged from their toddler years to go out for long walks and play outdoors often. A side benefit will be children who are exhausted by bedtime, and so putting them to bed will not be a Herculean task.
It is often a physically inactive lifestyle in combination with unhealthy eating that is the cause of an increasing number of obese children. Many of these children, unfortunately grow up to become obese adults.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified physical inactivity (a predominantly sedentary lifestyle and/or a lack of exercise) as an independent risk factor for chronic disease development. It is now the fourth leading cause of death worldwide.
It is worthwhile letting children know from an early age that we only get one body with which to live our life here on earth. It’s up to us how well our body will serve us over our lifespan. We can’t fuel it unintentionally for years and expect all to continue to be well.
We have a task to help our children get acquainted with a variety of healthy foods and be active. It’s best to start early.
Parents are you inspired to get your children eating healthy and active early? I write about the merits of encouraging children at a young age to be adventurous with food and much more in my book ‘Moderation Is Key’.