I’ve already told you about my participation in the 1st Lifeme Workshop. What I haven’t told you is that being a part of this workshop helped me meet many interesting people. One of them is Kiriaki Apergi, dietician-nutritionist, who participated in the Workshop with an interesting speech. It was about something I usually talk about with my friends who have small children and are anxious about their diet. Their anxiety has to do with how to educate their children to eat properly and make the right food choices growing up. So I asked Kyriaki to write an article for you too, on this subject: “Child Nutrition: Growing a smart eater”.
“The 1st Lifeme workshop is now a fact! Starting from my speech entitled “Growing a Smart Eater,” which took place in the OAKA on 14-4, I tried to highlight the real difficulty in the endeavor to learn the infants and children of modern Greek society to be fed properly, but also to offer small and substantial ‘tips’ to achieve the proper nutritional training of our little friends.
Starting from the first human food, mother’s milk, we find the man’s “inherent” preference to “love” the sweet, carbohydrate and fatty foods that are easy to digest and easily yield enough calories and, on the other hand, his tendency to avoid anything bitter or sour, which should be consumed in large quantities to provide energy. How easy is for the child not to get used to the “sweet” taste, since it already knows it?
Combining this timeless, genetic data with the shift of modern society to foods of high energy content but of low cost and nutritional value, we understand that choosing the right food to put on your plate becomes quite complex. This situation is aggravated by the bombardment of advertisements, as well as, posts from “celebrities” on social media, which could very well be considered as belonging to the “new” category of “foodporn”! When an adult, who is probably aware of the effects of his diet and on his or her health, has difficulty in following a healthy diet, we understand how difficult this is for an infant or for a child, who does not know why he shouldn’t eat all day only ice cream and pizza, as his favorite “hero”.
However, in contrast to what most people think, healthy eating is neither bland, nor expensive or time consuming. In a balanced diet there are no “good or bad” foods, but more “good” and “less good” “players” and “everything” is allowed in the right amount and frequency. The effort to increase the child’s “dietary IQ” should begin at a very young age, almost from endometrial life. To this end, both parents and all caregivers of the child should participate “on equal terms” and with steadiness; yelling, banning, punishing and all kind of pressure appear, bibliographically, to have the opposite effect.
Diet should be based on individualization for both the child and the family, but the “golden” rule that the parent decides “what, when and where” the family and the child will eat, whether to eat what is offered and how much. The parent makes the shopping and makes sure that nourishing food is available and does not prohibit “snacks and sweets”, but does not even offer them freely.
In terms of reward, it should be “small” and “verbal” and there should be “encouragement” for the “quality” of the act rather than “quantity”. It would be good for the child to understand from an early age that we eat properly to be healthy, active and happy and not to be weak, good, beautiful, lose weight, fat etc. In this context, comments on body image should rather be avoided and focus should be given in the effort of the right diet.
Healthy and nutritious eating can be easy, tasty and enjoyable, with a lot of imagination, fairy dust and participation of the whole family under the guidance of a specialist where it is needed.”