Nutrition-wise blog

Start early to encourage healthy eating

By Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. August 31, 2011

Working with mothers-to-be and new moms, I field many questions about what foods are best to eat and which are best avoided.

My common response is, "Eat what you like." If you like spicy foods and can tolerate them while pregnant, eat them. Recipe calls for 2 cloves of garlic, but you usually add 4? Go for it.

Lots of nursing mothers wonder about broccoli, cauliflower and those other gassy veggies. Again, if you tolerate them and your baby tolerates them, keep eating them. If you think a food is making your baby fussy and gassy, don't eliminate it right away. To be sure it was that food, try it again, in a smaller amount.

My advice isn't just for moms. It's also good advice for their kids. In utero and while receiving mother's milk, a baby is also experiencing all those wonderful, unique flavors. Studies have shown that babies who are exposed to a variety of flavors are more likely to except these flavors later in life. To put it quite simply, if you want to have children who like a variety of foods, expose them early on. And keep exposing them to nutritious foods as toddlers and adolescents.

We all want to raise a healthier generation of kids — and if we lessen childhood obesity then we lessen the risk of chronic disease. Exposing kids to the flavors of vegetables, fruits and spices early is the first step to getting them to accept and eat more of these foods. This is a big win for parents and kids alike.

To your children's health,

Katherine

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Aug. 31, 2011