With the increasing prevalence of obesity globally, many foods high in sugar and fat are now being singled out. But should we really banish certain products from the diet of toddlers?
The attraction of the forbidden
Forbidden foods include any foods that the child does not have the permission or opportunity to eat. Among these, we frequently find foods high in fat (eg fried foods and potato chips) or in added sugars (eg chocolate and pastries). Although the ban of certain foods is carried out with a view to he alth, the real impact is often the opposite of that expected. By limiting the accessibility of certain food products, they will only be more attractive! And when the child has the opportunity to eat them, he risks over-consuming the prohibited products for fear that this will be his last chance to taste them. Prohibitions stimulate desires… By presenting “treats” from time to time, children will understand that they do not need to stock up and that they will have other opportunities to taste these dishes.
Hot dogs, pizzas andcompany
Originally, the pizza and the hamburger are composed of he althy products. These dishes are in fact prepared with products from the four food groups: cereal products, vegetables, meat and cheese.
With industrialization, the reputation of these dishes has greatly deteriorated. Food markets now offer very s alty, high-fat versions of these dishes. When chosen wisely, pizzas and burgers can easily be incorporated into a balanced diet, provided you limit fat and s alt intake. So choose "homemade" versions rich in vegetables and made with lean meats (lean or extra-lean ground beef and poultry products) while limiting cheese (high in fat). When possible, choose whole-wheat breads or pastas to increase fiber intake. Don't forget to top it off with side vegetables and a glass of milk!
Hot dogs are less popular when it comes to making he althy choices. In fact, hot dogs are high in fat and s alt in addition to containing preservatives that are harmful to he alth (eg nitrites). However, this does not mean that they should be eliminated from the diet! Like all other foods, hot dogs and deli meats can be eaten occasionally. By occasionally incorporating less nutritious foods into a balanced menu, children's he alth will not be compromised.
ThereThe same is true for fried foods (eg fries and potato chips) or breaded foods (eg chicken nuggets and fish fillets). By their preparation process, frying and breading necessarily add fat to food. It is still possible to intelligently integrate these products into the diet by opting for versions that are lower in fat and sodium. Make home-baked fries and potato chips that will allow you to control the amount of added fat and s alt. It is also possible to reproduce the much-appreciated crunch of breaded foods by opting for less fatty manufacturing processes, such as our recipe for cajun-style breaded fish.
Desserts and sweets
Whether it is cakes, cookies, candies or any other sweet foods, it is important that the child is exposed to these products and that he can appreciate them. The nutritional balance of children will not be compromised. Again, it's all about the amount and frequency of food exposure.
Special occasions and holidays are ideal times to incorporate such products into the menu. In addition, it is possible to offer “homemade” cakes or cookies that are lower in fat/sugar than the industrial versions. This will prevent children from getting their taste buds used to fatty and/or sugary foods and from developing a strong attraction to these products. For more information,check out the article on desserts.
Unlike sweet desserts and high-fat foods, ketchup is used more often than not during meals to make it easier for small eaters to eat.
Composed of tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, s alt, and a few spices, ketchup has long been used as camouflage strategies for less popular foods. This nutritious condiment is not part of the four food groups. It can therefore be used from time to time, but in reasonable quantities.
As a condiment, ketchup should be used to enhance the natural taste of food and stimulate appetite. It must not hide the flavor of the food, which could limit the development of tastes in children and could have repercussions on their diet as an adult. It is therefore important to accustom the child to the different flavors and to avoid the monotony that could result from frequent consumption of ketchup. Alternate the use of ketchup with other accompanying sauces to vary the flavours, such as peach sauce or tzatziki sauce.
Food for children
On the shelves at the grocery store, there are many products intended for children. Food companies have indeed developed several attractive products for children thanks to fun shapes and colors. These products are unfortunatelyoften less nutritious than the “adult” version. The food marketing carried out by these companies leads consumers to believe that children cannot eat the same products as adults. However, it is wrong to believe that children cannot eat the same foods as adults on the pretext that they will not like them.
Children's tastes, like those of adults, develop over time. It is therefore important to expose small eaters to multiple different flavors and foods. Setting a good example at the table and repeating the display of less popular foods remain the best strategy for making children appreciate a wide variety of foods (see the sheet on neophobia).
And obesity in all this?
Several studies have linked the consumption of foods high in fat and added sugars to an increased prevalence of obesity. However, during infancy, small eaters have very high energy needs, but a limited appetite due to their small stomachs. It is therefore not appropriate to restrict the consumption of foods high in fat and sugar for young children on the pretext that they are higher in calories. It is also recommended to offer whole milk (3.25% M. F.) to children from preschool age up to the age of two in order to meet their needs more easily. The food market offers us an increasingly wide range of low-fat or made-to-measure products.from intense sweeteners (such as sucralose, aspartame or acesulfame-potassium). These products have the advantage of containing very few calories and meet the needs of a clientele concerned about their weight.
However, low-calorie foods are not suitable for feeding growing children. The consumption of these products is more likely to harm the he alth of small eaters who will not obtain all the nutrients necessary for their development. In addition, intense sweeteners accustom consumers to the sweet taste and stimulate the attraction for it. So prefer natural sugars to these substitutes.
A few precautions
When offering occasional food:
- Pay special attention to the portion size of “treats”, because although they are served occasionally, that does not mean that you have to consume large quantities!
- Choose lower s alt products when possible. Occasional foods are often very s alty and high sodium intake is detrimental to he alth in both children and adults.
- Choose homemade desserts to control the quantity and quality of sugars and fats.
- Never use sweets as a reward or to blackmail (e.g. finish your plate or you won't have dessert), otherwise the appeal of this product will only be accentuated.
- When serving foodsupplement the meal with nutritious foods to meet the needs of small eaters.
- Dramatize the consumption of treats and avoid placing them on a pedestal. The child will be able to taste the treats and appreciate them without taking all his interest in them.
- All foods have their place in a he althy, balanced diet. So allow yourself some treats!
In daycare settings, nut and peanut-based products are often prohibited to ensure the safety of children with allergies.
This type of prohibition is sometimes necessary in order to avoid any incident. Nut and peanut allergies are becoming more common, and the allergen they contain spreads easily. It is therefore preferable to eliminate products containing these allergens and leave it to the parents to offer these foods at home.
For more information on allergies, do not hesitate to consult the article on this subject.