When I was a kid, “nutrition education” was pretty
negligent simple. It was basically, “There are five food groups. Here’s the pyramid. Go drink out of a water hose.” (Or something like that.) I’m not sure why they didn’t teach us more in depth. Maybe they thought we couldn’t understand anything else? I get it. Nutrition can be complicated. But, we don’t have to try to explain macros and calories and metabolism. We don’t have to expect our kids to understand the makeup of an amino acid.
However, there are a few core concepts about nutrition that I think are basic enough for my six year old to understand. Disclaimer: the hardest part of all of this is obviously practicing what I preach…
I’m preaching this all the time. Like a lot of kids, Grayson goes straight to asking for Gatorade or juice boxes. He doesn’t like water, which blows my mind because the kid never had anything but milk and water for the first four years of his life I think. I tell him how your brain and body can’t function as well without fuel, and water is our fuel. As someone who loves learning and reading, his brain is very important to him these days.
This is another concept that is not too hard for kids to grasp. As opposed to processed food, whole food being something that is minimally processed, unrefined and free of artificial ingredients. Grayson knows that his best choice is always a fruit, vegetable or maybe nuts of some sort.
Our culture has normalized large portions. With all you can eat buffets on every corner and the option to “upsize” a meal everywhere you go, the societal standard has gone far from what’s healthy. A simple way to teach your kids what healthy portions should be, is the hand rule. A fist should be the size of veggies/starch, a palm the size of their meat serving, a thumb the size of a cheese serving, and a thumb tip the size of fats and oil serving.
Another cultural norm that isn’t doing anything for our health is the “dessert with every meal” standard. This is so huge. Grayson expects dessert with every meal because he thinks it’s part of a meal. There has been so much research over the last several years as it pertains to the harm that sugar can cause. Most kids know that sugar can rot their teeth, but I think it’s also appropriate to take it a step further. I tell Grayson that sweets can cause disease and hurt your body over time. The truth is that high sugar diets are known to contribute to cancer, cause diabetes, destroy metabolism and be a major factor in the rise of obesity. It’s unhealthy without moderation, and our kids need to know its not good for you. I don’t restrict his fruit and we try to use honey for sweetener when we can.
In an ideal world, our kids would eat perfectly balanced, organic, cruelty free, free range, grass fed meals and life would be grand. Not realistic. Some days I am lucky if Grayson inhales a decent serving of goldfish and chokes down something green. Thankfully, he’s obsessed with vitamins. Olly has several options of gummy vitamins that will supplement your kids’ inconsistent diet with what they need. Since Grayson is very into making sure his brain is at optimal health, he chose Brainy Kids. I have been taking their Postnatal Vitamins and they make me feel so much better, replenishing nutrients I’m not getting enough of.