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How to keep your toddler away from junk foods

How to keep your toddler away from junk foods

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As your child grows older, her food preferences begin to change and become specific. Toddlers get more interested towards foods that are attractive and have a fun element attached to them. Children at toddlerhood often imitate adult behavior, so if you indulge in unhealthy foods and they are available in your house, your toddler may indulge in it too.

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

What are junk foods?

Any food that is nutritionally not adequate , providing more of calories and less of vitamins and minerals can be termed as a Junk Food. It can be high in nutrients like fat, refined carbohydrates like maida etc sodium, sugar etc which might not be good for your child’s health.

Understanding Junk Foods.

A junk food provides empty calories i.e. it is calorie dense instead of being nutrient dense.

Junk Foods are Unhealthy.Junk foods are those that are virtually negligible in nutritional value and ingredients which can be unhealthy if consumed regularly.

Junk Foods offer convenience. Junk foods contain high amounts of saturated fats, salt or sugar, and little or no fruit, vegetables or dietary fiber. These foods are considered to have little or no health benefits.

Identifying Junk Foods.

Foods like chips, sweets, cookies, carbonated beverages heavily fried foods etc are different types of junk foods.

Energy dense Junk Foods. Food becomes energy dense from sugar or fat. A food may not be categorized as junk food if given in a small portion size eg, if one slice of cheese pizza with vegetables is given once a week it is healthy however, if everyday 2 or more slices of pizza are given it becomes unhealthy habit.

Limit your Toddler’s Intake of Junk Foods.

Increased consumption of junk foods can lead to many adverse effects on the health of toddlers. Some of the reasons why you should keep your toddler away from junk foods are:

High Calorific Value. Large amount of empty calories increases the risk of childhood obesity and its potential damages.

High Oil Content. Junk foods are high in saturated fats and trans-fatty acids. Apart from increasing the fat percent in the body, they also increase the chances of developing heart problems early in one’s life.

High Sugar Content. Excess sugar also leads to dental problems and increases fat content in the body. It also makes your toddler prone to childhood obesity.

High Salt Content. Junk foods are mostly processed and may be loaded with salts like commercially produced chips. Excess intake of salts dehydrates the body and hampers the functioning and physiology of kidneys at a later stage.

No Nutritional Value. Junk foods contain very few vitamins and minerals. The cooking and processing method used to prepare them, may also destroys the nutrients that may have been originally present in the ingredients.

Consumption of these junk foods not only adversely affects the interest and appetite of toddlers for nutritious foods but also increases the risk of obesity, malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies in them.

Ways to Avoid Junk Foods.

Consuming a nutritious balanced meal is very necessary for optimum health, growth and development of your toddler. Encourage your toddler to eat healthy food and snacks. But as a parent it is your responsibility to inculcate healthy eating habits in your toddler. Follow these simple tips to help your toddler eat healthy:

Educate Your Toddler about healthy foods. Teach your toddler about healthy foods and their health benefits. The best time to start teaching your child is when she begins to eat. Introduce her to healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, milk etc.

Be Firm About Not Giving unhealthy Food. Never give food as a reward for anything she may have achieved. Do not you feel guilty about not allowing your child such foods every other day. You are doing the right thing and you should be proud of it.

Choose Restaurants Wisely. If you are eating out, look for a restaurant that serves healthy food options and choose from foods that involve minimum processing and minimum frying while cooking. Avoid eating at roadside stalls.

Be a Role Model. If you want your child to eat healthy foods, you have to model that behavior for her by choosing healthy foods yourself.

Create Healthy Fun-foods at Home.

Provide your child with as many healthy options of home cooked foods as possible. Many foods like pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and rolls can be made at home. By doing so, you are not keeping your child craving for them and preventing them from their adverse effects too. Here are a few tips to convert junk foods into healthy treats:

Use Quality Controlled Ingredients. Prepare fresh dough from whole-wheat flour for homemade pizzas, burgers, foot longs etc. as whole-wheat flour is rich in fiber and micronutrients. Also cooking breads at home ensures that the type of flour, oil and other ingredients are quality controlled.

Use Healthy Toppings. Use top quality fresh fruits, vegetables, sprouts, cheese, paneer ,soya granules, eggs etc to prepare the fillings, toppings and curries. This ensures that the food retains maximum amount of fibers and nutrients as compared to the low nutrient content of commercial foods. Change the potato filling of the samosa to mince soy or paneer filling to turn it onto a healthy option.

Avoid Canned/Packed Foods. Encourage the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables instead of commercially packed, canned or tinned foods so that the intake of preservatives, artificial coloring agents etc are minimal.

Avoid Deep Frying. Grill, steam or baking the foods if possible, instead of deep-frying the foods to prevent excess fat consumption. These techniques expose the food to least amount of cooking in order to preserve the nutrient value.

Healthy Food Keeps Your Child Healthy for Life.

Keeping your toddler away from junk foods prevents her from developing risks of many degenerative diseases and obesity and secure her health for life.

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