How Do You Define “Healthy Food”?

Expert Stories | Mrs. Shayana Ameresekere MHumNutr (Aus) RNutr(Aus), Nutritionist

For you and your family to be able to eat healthy we have to be able to define and identify healthy foods.

Healthy eating means eating a variety of foods so that you and your child gets the nutrients that is required on a daily basis for normal growth. This includes; proteins, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals. In general If your child regularly eats a wide variety of basic foods, he or she should be receiving the nutrients to be well-nourished.(https://bit.ly/30tXW99)

Eating well not only supports your child’s healthy growth and development into adulthood it also sets the path for a life without non-communicable diseases and other potential health complications. (https://bit.ly/30tXW99)

It is important to keep in mind your child isn’t born with a aversion to certain vegetables and preferences for sweets and fast food, these are created by external influences over time. However the sooner you introduce wholesome, nutritious choices into a child’s diet, the easier they’ll be able to develop a healthy relationship with food that can last them a lifetime. (S. Ameresekere, 2021).

How can you help your child eat well and be healthy?

Many parents worry that their child is either eating too much or too little. Perhaps your child only wants to eat one type of food all the time? One way to help your child eat well and help you worry less is to know what your job is and what your child's job is when it comes to meal time.

If your child only wants to eat one type of food, he/she is doing the parent's job of deciding what food choices are where as it is the parent's job to decide what foods are offered. (S. Ameresekere, 2021).

  • As a parent your job is to offer nutritious food choices at meal and snack times. You decide the what, where, and when of eating.
  • Your child's job is to choose how much he or she will eat of the foods you serve. Your child decides how much or even whether to eat at all at that point in time.

This concept might be hard for some parents to adjust to however stick with it and over time this process will encourage your child to continue to trust his or her internal hunger gauge and will avoid them building a resentment to certain foods.

Some other ways you can help support your child’s healthy eating habits are:

  • Eat together as a family as often as possible. Keep family meals pleasant and positive. Avoid making comments about the amount or type of food your child eats. Pressure to eat actually reduces children's acceptance of new or different foods.
  • Make healthy food choices for your family's meals. Children notice the choices you make and follow your example.
  • Make meal times fairly predictable. Eat at around the same times every day (as much as possible) and always eat at the table.
  • Have meals often enough (for example, about every 3 hours for toddlers) that your child doesn't get too hungry and stressed.

And probably the most important suggestion for healthy eating is to do nothing else during the meal other than talking and enjoying each others company and the food. This means no TV, other screens or distractions in general. (S. Ameresekere, 2021).