Diabetes is a worldwide threat to personal health, with 34.2 million people diagnosed just in the United States, according to the CDC. Regardless of economic status or residence location, statistics show just how widespread this disease is.
The good news is, there are many things you can do in your lifestyle to prevent diabetes. A prediabetes diagnosis is one of major the risk factors for type 2 diabetes, and it can be motivation for you or a loved one to make a change.
Creating a prediabetes diet plan is one of the steps you can take to protect your health and prevent a future diabetes diagnosis. A balanced, nutritious diet will help keep you on track and might motivate you to make changes in other areas of your life as well.
If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes and don’t know what your next step should be, we’re here to help. Keep reading to learn how a diet plan can help you and how to create one that fits your lifestyle.
What Is Prediabetes?
Whether your doctor told you that you may be at risk for diabetes or you’ve been recently diagnosed with prediabetes, you may be looking to learn more about what prediabetes means.
Prediabetes is a condition of high blood sugar levels, but not high enough to be considered levels of type 2 diabetes. This is why prediabetes is often a clear indication of risk for type 2 diabetes and motivates many people to start making a change.
Some risk factors include lack of physical activity, a family history of diabetes, and age of 45 years or older. A blood sugar test is one way to test for prediabetes. Early detection and diagnosis give you even more of a chance to change your lifestyle and prevent further complications.
Prediabetes Diet Plan for Diabetes Prevention
Eating habits are one of the most important lifestyle changes you can make to prevent diabetes. But don’t worry, creating a diet plan to reverse prediabetes does not have to mean removing everything you enjoy from your diet.
A prediabetes diet plan should have three balanced meals a day, consisting of plenty of nonstarchy vegetables, lots of fruit, whole grains, and proteins such as fish, beans, and eggs.
Some good vegetables to include are leafy greens, tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, brussels sprouts, zucchini, eggplant, and cucumbers. The great thing about vegetables is that whether you have them fresh or frozen, they have the same nutritional value.
Some seafood that offers healthy proteins and fats include salmon, shrimp, and tuna. Beans also offer protein as well as fiber, including lentils, kidney or garbanzo beans, and soybeans. Another great source of protein is products made from soy such as tofu or other plant-based meat substitutes.
Whole grains that you can choose for healthy carbohydrates include whole-wheat bread and cereal, brown rice, or quinoa. Try to avoid too many starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes, but it’s important not to completely cut them out of your diet.
You can also use dietary supplements, such as Pep2Dia, which can help naturally manage blood sugar levels. You can take this before your meals without worrying about any future side effects.
Fitting a Diet Into Your Lifestyle
As part of this diet, try to avoid sugary drinks and focus more on hydration. Water is essential to any healthy lifestyle, but it can be hard to make water the only thing you drink. A great way to spice up your hydration is adding fresh fruit to your water such as lemon or lime, or even cucumber and mint.
Instead of getting your sugars from drinks that will not keep you full, you can try to have a bowl of fruit instead, sure to keep you fuller for a longer time.
You also may want to focus on decreasing your portion sizes. This is where that moderation comes in. Intuitive eating can be a helpful tool for this, which means you don’t have to completely cut out those foods that you love!
This might look like eating only half of a portion at a restaurant and saving the rest or eating only when you’re hungry rather than eating out of boredom or coping with emotional eating.
If you’re thinking of starting a prediabetic diet or have recently started one, it’s important to be sure you can fit it into your lifestyle. If you’re having a hard time sticking to it because it’s so drastic from what you were eating before, you’re much less likely to stick with it.
It’s important to keep the foods you love in your diet, just in moderation. Having those foods whenever you’re craving them rather than restricting yourself can prevent you from overeating them in the future.
The Importance of Exercise
As you may know, diet and exercise go hand-in-hand. If you want to become the best and healthiest version of yourself, finding exercise that you enjoy is so important.
If you find a type of exercise that you enjoy rather than exercising just to lose weight, you’re more likely to stick with it. What if you challenged yourself to think of exercise as a way to care for your body rather than punish it?
Both strength training and cardio exercises are important, but you guessed it–all in moderation. A good way to start incorporating exercise into your daily routine is with the little things, like taking the stairs over the elevator or walking to get your coffee in the morning instead of making the 5-minute drive.
The Power to Change
Receiving a prediabetes diagnosis or an urge to change your lifestyle from your doctor would be overwhelming for anyone. But, you have the power to turn it all around.
A prediabetes diet plan is essential to the future of your wellbeing, but don’t feel like you need to wait for a doctor’s recommendation. Eating a balanced, nutritious diet certainly won’t hurt anyone.
If you’ve recently received a diagnosis, you may be feeling defeated or discouraged. We’re here to help, and we have products created just for you and your needs.
Visit our site today to see the products we have to offer as you continue your journey to better health and wellness.
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Americans take a bite out of the holidays. The average American expects to gain eight pounds over the course of the holiday season.
Holiday eating is dangerous for everyone, especially people living with diabetes or prediabetes. If you need to monitor your blood sugar, you have to be mindful of holiday eating habits.
What should you do before you go to holiday events? How can you keep your blood sugar levels down in the middle of the holidays? What should you prioritize during your meals?
Answer these questions and you can keep the holiday pounds off while enjoying the festivities. Here is your quick guide.
Talk to Your Doctor
You can only manage diabetes with the help of your doctor. Before the holiday season gets underway, schedule an appointment and talk to them about diabetes and holidays.
In general, someone with prediabetes should lose weight. Losing just ten pounds may be enough to stave off type 2 diabetes and return to normal blood sugar rates. As such, people with prediabetes should develop a diet plan that trends toward weight loss.
But someone may have a very low weight. They should focus on reducing their blood sugar rates, namely through omitting carbohydrates from their diet.
There are important reasons for balancing blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels control processes within the body, helping your sleep quality and cognition. If they are too high, they can impede organ function and hurt brain development.
A diabetes diet does not mean you have no room for holiday treats. Ask for suggestions from your doctor about what you can do.
Monitor Your Symptoms
Many people with prediabetes do not experience any symptoms. They may only know they have prediabetes after receiving a blood test at their doctor’s office.
Symptoms of prediabetes can include increased thirst, urination, and fatigue. These are classic symptoms of diabetes, and they may suggest someone has developed the full condition.
In rare cases, someone may experience skin discoloration. This is a sign of insulin resistance, suggesting that skin cells are rejecting the insulin that the pancreas produces.
When you have symptoms of prediabetes, do not panic. Take note that you have them and then think about what you ate previously.
As the holiday season goes on, be conscious of how your symptoms are going. If they occur during the day, you may need to adjust what you eat at night. You can take medications to reduce your blood sugar and avoid complications.
Limit Your Portions
The key to eating holiday food is to avoid overeating. You can have mashed potatoes, but don’t eat more than a single serving.
Try eating your food on smaller plates. When you finish your plate, you send a signal to your brain that you have eaten a lot of food. This can lead you to eat less.
When you are eating at a table, you should find a seat away from carbohydrate-rich foods. This may give you the incentive to eat healthier options.
You can enjoy more portions of whole grains and healthy carbohydrates. Brown rice, legumes, and bulgur wheat contain protein and antioxidants. Yet you should not go overboard and eat too many grains.
When in doubt, avoid desserts. Bread stuffing and potatoes may not be good for your blood sugar. But they can have nutrients in them that are healthy.
Desserts rarely contain anything that is good for you. Butter and margarine are high in saturated fat, and they contribute to weight gain.
You can have some fruit for dessert, though you should avoid very sweet ones. Bananas and berries are loaded with antioxidants and dietary fiber.
Adopt a Meal Schedule
When you eat is just as important for your health as what you eat. If you go too long between your meals, your blood sugar may drop to dangerous levels. It takes time for sugar levels to go down after a meal, and high blood sugar levels can cause brain fog.
Try to keep to the same times for your meals every day. This will cue your pancreas to produce insulin at certain times, which can help you manage your condition.
Eat breakfast within two hours of waking up. Then wait a few hours to eat lunch at around noon. You can have dinner at five, but try not to eat past six.
If you are feeling hungry, you can have a snack. But keep it small and nutrient-heavy.
Fill Up With Vegetables
Managing diabetic symptoms does not mean starving yourself. You should still eat meals until you are full.
Your plate should be full of vegetables. Try to eat a variety of them in several different ways. You can have a salad with raw vegetables, but you should roast and saute your vegetables as well.
You can replace your meat with protein-rich vegetables. Edamame beans and Brussels sprouts contain several grams of protein per serving. You can boil, roast, and saute these vegetables in a number of recipes.
Enjoy Your Holiday Eating
Holiday eating and diabetes don’t go hand in hand. Talk to your doctor about what you can do this season. Be conscious of your symptoms over time.
Limit your portions, eating one scoop of carbs at a time. Avoid desserts and opt for healthy sides instead.
Eat your meals at the same time every day. But don’t go hungry for too long. Eat filling vegetables and whole grains that help reduce your blood sugar levels.
Keep finding good health advice. Ingredia provides informative mental and physical health guides. Read our guide to seven healthy habits you can start now.
Most people have probably heard the term ”blood sugar” a thousand times over, but the reality is that most people don’t really know what it means.
Most of us know it’s important to have stable blood sugar levels. However, there is still a sense of mystery around what our blood sugar levels actually do for us on a daily basis.
To learn more about how unstable blood sugar levels can disrupt your health, this blog is for you.
What Does the Term ”Blood Sugar” Mean?
Contrary to what many might think, blood sugar doesn’t exactly point to sugar levels in the blood. Well, not the type of sugar you add to your coffee, anyway. But rather, the amount of energy present in our bloodstream.
Sugar in the body is known as glucose and is our main energy source that powers us through our daily activities.
When you consume carbohydrates the body breaks down its components in the digestive tract. Most of these components are converted to glucose, i.e. energy.
So, in short, the term blood sugar refers to glucose energy levels present in the blood.
How Blood Sugar Levels Affect the Body
You can think of your blood sugar levels as the lead controller of many metabolic processes in the body. In other words, blood glucose levels dictate how hungry you are. They also dictate your energy levels, cravings, moods, sleep quality, and more.
In order for humans to feel their best, well-balanced blood sugar levels are important. You don’t want your blood glucose levels to be too high, or too low, either.
When this happens, a myriad of unwanted processes takes place in the body — much like a domino effect. For example, when your blood sugar is too low, you could feel lethargic, irritable, have brain fog, and sleep poorly.
If your blood glucose levels are too high, this can lead to issues such as weight gain, poor energy levels, and skin problems. Not-to-mention, long-term conditions such as diabetes.
How Does Your Body Balance Blood Sugar Levels?
To achieve well-balanced blood sugar levels, your body relies on two important hormones: insulin and glucagon.
Whenever you consume something, your pancreas secretes insulin into the bloodstream.
The purpose of insulin is to assist with blood sugar regulation. You can think of insulin as a traffic controller. It helps to determine how much glucose to send to your cells for energy, and how much to keep in your bloodstream.
Most of the glucose that insulin regulates goes to your liver cells, muscle cells, and fat cells. They store the glucose as energy, which we use up throughout the day.
Without enough insulin, glucose levels in the blood would remain too high. This results in a major blood sugar imbalance. This can result in a myriad of conditions, and chief among them is Type 2 diabetes.
Glucagon is also important as it assists in the processing of glucose in the body. When glucose reaches the liver cells, glucagon is responsible for breaking down glycogen into glucose.
It’s also responsible for glucose synthesis and inhibits the formation of glycogen. Without this hormone, glucose would not make it back into your bloodstream for circulation.
Insulin plays the biggest role in regulating blood sugar levels. It’s an adaptive hormone that can quickly regulate the amount of sugar in the blood. And most of the time, it doesn’t matter how much sugar or carbohydrates you’ve actually consumed.
But it’s no superhero, insulin has a limit to how much it can handle. When blood sugar levels are balanced, regulating excess glucose is a simple task that takes an average of 1-2 hours in healthy individuals.
However, when you consume excess sugar this process goes into overdrive and becomes stressed. Ultimately, this leads to insulin resistance.
As your blood becomes oversaturated with glucose, your body needs more and more insulin to manage your blood sugar levels. Eventually, your body can become insulin resistant and will not be able to regulate or process glucose effectively.
This can result in a number of conditions, but the worst among them is also Type 2 diabetes.
Why Balanced Blood Sugar Levels Are Important
As you can see, your body is sensitive to the number of carbohydrates and sugars you consume. Whether you consume too little or too much, unbalanced blood sugar levels can lead to a host of health issues.
Here’s how you can benefit from keeping your blood sugar levels in check:
- Steady levels of energy — when your blood sugar is too high, this can result in fatigue, weight gain, obesity, and depression. When they are too low, this can result in dizziness, fatigue, headaches, and drowsiness
- Improved focus — glucose is fuel for the brain and, in short, provides fuel for effective cognitive function
- Weight control — unbalanced sugar levels can lead to excessive hunger, cravings, and insulin resistance. All of which can lead to weight gain and obesity
- Improved skin conditions — spikes in blood glucose cause insulin levels to increase, as well as the production of androgens. This can result in acne and other skin problems
Aside from these benefits, stable blood glucose levels have positive long-term effects on the body.
For one, you can prevent the onset of conditions such as prediabetes and diabetes itself, which affects over 10.5 percent of the U.S. population, alone.
Once diabetes sets in, this can also lead to the onset of many other serious health conditions. Just some of these include heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, kidney disease, dementia, and more.
Even if you don’t develop diabetes in your lifetime, stable blood sugar levels can maintain your cognitive function and memory.
However, insulin resistance can impact your cerebral glucose metabolism, which can affect your memory in the long term. Ultimately, this could spur on degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Take Your Health into Your Own Hands
Balanced blood glucose levels do more than just regulate your appetite or impact your sleep quality. In the long term, the management of your blood sugar levels can impact your longevity.
Interested in taking care of your health and what you put into your body? Learn more about our product, Pep2Dia®, for blood sugar management.
When you have diabetes, you have to take care to check your blood sugar levels multiple times each day. You may even have to administer diabetes medication or inject insulin when you notice that your levels are too high or too low.
If you are new to all of this, it can be difficult to figure out what is causing your levels to spike or drop depending on the time of day or what you’ve eaten. You’re not alone. In fact, there are approximately 32.4 people in the United States who have diabetes and have to monitor their glucose levels to get through the day.
Continue reading to learn what causes abrupt changes in your blood sugar levels. You’ll also learn how to better manage blood sugar.
What Affects Blood Sugar Levels?
Several things may play a part in the fluctuation of your blood sugar levels. However, everyone is different. What affects one person might not even affect the next.
Dehydration can cause your blood sugar levels to spike. When you don’t drink enough water, there isn’t enough water in your bloodstream to balance the amount of concentrated glucose that is present in the blood. When this happens, you’ll notice a spike in your blood sugar levels.
Eating carbohydrates at all will cause your blood sugar levels to rise due to them being turned into sugars to give you an energy boost. This is normal. However, eating too many carbohydrates can cause a huge spike making you feel off. Fatty foods may also cause you to feel sluggish and increase your blood glucose level. It can even cause your body to become resistant to insulin.
You may also find that eating too frequently or at the wrong times can cause your blood sugar to fluctuate.
The fluctuation of hormones (due to any number of reasons) can mess with your blood sugar. When you are ill or dealing with an infection, your body will increase hormones (while also increasing blood sugar levels) to fight off the virus or bacteria.
An increase in testosterone for men and estrogen for women can cause an insulin reaction. For women, life events like pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause can cause a fluctuation in hormones causing high blood sugar.
Stress can cause your blood sugar to skyrocket. It can also cause you to develop insulin resistance.
All of these things can cause you to struggle with managing your blood sugar.
Changes In Blood Sugar Levels
Your blood sugar levels may fall in a safe range (70 to 126 mg/dL), but when it’s too high or too low, problems may occur. There are two types of changes that occur when the amount of glucose in the blood isn’t balanced.
When there is too much glucose (more than 126 mg/dL) in your blood, you are experiencing hyperglycemia. In the long term, hyperglycemia can cause issues with kidney and eye disease. Heart attacks and strokes are possible. Long-term hyperglycemia can also cause nerve damage and circulation disorders.
When experiencing hyperglycemia, you might notice:
- Increased thirst (polydipsia)
- Increased hunger (polyphagia)
- Increased urination (polyuria)
- Dry mouth (xerostomia)
- Blurred vision
- More infections
- Slowed healing (cuts and sores)
These symptoms occur when:
- You eat too much food
- You don’t get enough physical activity
- You skip doses of medication and meals
- You get stressed
- You are ill or have an infection
Getting your number to come down so that you begin to feel better is very important to your health and wellbeing.
When there is not enough glucose (less than 70 mg/dL) in your blood, you are experiencing hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia prevents the body from functioning in a normal capacity.
Hypoglycemia symptoms include:
Your blood sugar is likely to drop when:
- You don’t eat enough food
- You overexert yourself with physical activity
- You take too much insulin or diabetes medication
- You drink too much alcohol without eating
In severe cases, it can lead to confusion, seizures, unconsciousness, coma, or even death. Because of the weakness, you may find yourself in a position where you can’t eat or drink and you can’t administer your medications. This can lead to unconsciousness and even death.
How Can You Maintain Safer Blood Sugar Levels?
You will find that maintaining a safe blood glucose level comes naturally when you:
- Drink enough water
- Avoid skipping meals
- Take your medication on time
When you have extremely low blood sugar levels, it’s important to remedy the situation immediately. You can do this by taking glucose tablets, drinking fruit juice or regular soda, or eating some hard candy.
Blood sugar management plays a huge role in your success. You will want to accurately time your intake of food and administering your medication. It’s important to monitor your blood sugar levels, food intake, medication, and physical activity. Writing it down in a journal along with symptoms you may be feeling can help you to keep an accurate record.
You can use the journal to communicate effectively with your doctor and to track how you feel when your glucose levels are out of sorts.
If you are having an issue with regulating your blood glucose levels, Pep2Dia, a patented milk protein hydrolysate, might be able to help you out.
Managing Your Blood Sugar Levels
It’s important to your overall health and wellbeing to manage your blood sugar levels. Make sure you are taking the precautions that you should be to keep your blood sugar at a healthy level… not too low and not too high.
Contact us today for more information on blood sugar management and what you can do to keep yourself within your target level. We’d be happy to answer any questions you might have about using Pep2Dia to help regulate your blood sugar levels.
According to the latest research, approximately 34.2 million Americans (that’s 10.5 percent of the population) have been diagnosed with diabetes.
Are you part of this group? Do you need help figuring out the right diet that will help you with your blood sugar management?
If you’re not sure where to begin, read on.
Listed below are some foods you can add to your meals today to regulate blood sugar and start feeling better. We’ll also share some foods you can eliminate to achieve the same result.
Broccoli makes a great addition to your diet if your goal is diabetes self-management.
Both broccoli and broccoli sprouts contain sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is a plant chemical that’s produced when broccoli is chewed or chopped. It has antidiabetic effects and helps to lower blood sugar, as well as oxidative stress markers, while also increasing insulin sensitivity.
Broccoli is also a good source of fiber. Eating plenty of high-fiber foods can help you to avoid blood sugar spikes and stay fuller longer, which can be useful if you’re trying to lose weight and need help resisting cravings.
Fish and shellfish are excellent sources of protein. Eating a high protein diet can help you to keep your blood sugar levels under control and feel more satiated after a meal is finished.
It’s important to note, too, that fatty fish are also beneficial for blood sugar balance. For example, salmon and sardines have been shown to produce more stable blood sugar levels after eating, even better than leaner types of fish.
Pumpkin and Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds are both tasty and healthy foods to include in your diet for better blood sugar. Pumpkin contains fiber and a type of carbohydrate known as polysaccharides. Polysaccharides have significant blood sugar-balancing properties.
Pumpkin seeds are also beneficial because they contain magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral that is known for balancing blood sugar. As a bonus, it has relaxation-promoting properties, too.
Beans and Lentils
Beans and lentils are also good choices. They’re packed with magnesium, fiber, and protein, all of which help to lower blood sugar.
Research also shows that people who add beans and other legumes to their high-carb meals have lower post-meal blood sugar levels than those who don’t.
For those who have not been diagnosed with diabetes but are still concerned about blood sugar balance, adding beans and lentils to your diet now could make a big difference. Another study shows that these foods may help to prevent diabetes.
Many people assume that they have to give up fruit altogether when they’re working on managing blood sugar. That’s not true, though.
Strawberries are a sweet (but low sugar) fruit that can easily be added to your diet for better blood sugar levels. They contain fiber and antioxidants, too, which can reduce oxidative stress and keep your cells healthy.
Other types of berries are also beneficial to those dealing with blood sugar issues. Blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries offer their own unique benefits, but they’re all good sources of antioxidants and fiber (without a lot of sugar).
Nuts, from almonds and cashews to pistachios and walnuts, are great snacks for those who need help keeping their blood sugar under control.
They’re good sources of healthy fats, and they also contain fiber for better blood sugar balance.
Some nuts also contain omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, too. These nutrients can help to prevent blood sugar spikes and they protect your heart!
Oatmeal isn’t just a tasty and versatile breakfast food. It can also help you to avoid blood sugar spikes and drops (as long as you don’t load it up with sugary toppings).
Oatmeal is packed with fiber, which lowers blood sugar and improves insulin sensitivity. To add more flavor to your morning (or afternoon or evening) bowl, consider adding other toppings that have blood sugar management benefits, such as strawberries or nuts.
Eggs contain protein and healthy fats, and they can help to improve insulin sensitivity while also decreasing inflammation. They contain antioxidants, too, which protect against free radical damage and oxidative stress.
It’s important to remember that the egg yolk is your friend. Don’t throw it out, as it contains the majority of the nutrients.
Healthy fats help to prevent blood sugar spikes. They also add more flavor to your food and make your meals more satisfying.
Olive oil is a great example of a healthy fat source that you can add to your diet to control blood sugar levels.
Olive oil contains monounsaturated fats, which are known for their heart health benefits, and it’s a good source of antioxidants. Combine it with some apple cider vinegar and spices to make a simple, tasty salad dressing.
Foods to Avoid for Better Blood Sugar
When it comes to learning how to manage blood sugar, there are plenty of wholesome foods you can add to your diet. At the same time, though, you may need to cut out or reduce your intake of certain things to really see progress.
Here are some examples of foods and drinks to avoid or enjoy only on occasion:
- Sugar-sweetened beverages (such as soda, fruit juice, etc.)
- Fried foods
- Sugar-sweetened cereal
- Packaged snacks (such as chips, crackers, cookies, etc.)
These foods are more likely to cause blood sugar spikes and crashes. They can also contribute to an increased risk of other health issues, such as heart problems or obesity.
Time for Better Blood Sugar Management
Not that you know more about the benefits of a healthy diet for blood sugar management, it’s time to start making some changes. Keep the tips listed above in mind so you can start regulating your blood glucose levels and making your health a priority.
Do you want to learn more about managing blood sugar? Do you need help with stress relief so you can manage diabetes more easily?
If so, Ingredia may be able to help. Contact us today to learn more about our research and how we’re working to revolutionize the dairy products you know and love.
Picture a brussels sprout in your mind.
Whether you’re currently gaging or dreaming about new recipes, you have an opinion. How does such a tiny vegetable elicit such a strong response?
Kids begin to form their opinions about food at a young age. As a parent, you’re responsible for helping your child to form healthy opinions and habits. Your child’s earliest experiences with food will inform what they eat for life.
Ready to raise a healthy eater? It’s never too late to teach your child about healthy eating habits! Read on to learn how to help your child develop healthy eating habits – without tears.
Healthy Eating Habits in Kids
All kids follow unique developmental pathways. Your child’s pathway toward healthy eating will have just as many twists and turns. What your child will encounter on their journey is up to their parents and caregivers.
Encouraging healthy eating habits for children must begin with a critical examination of your own eating habits. Begin by exploring your own behavior around food. Children hear and see everything, and your internal biases can impact their reactions at the table.
Do you have a verbal response when you encounter food that you don’t like? Do you insist on a clean plate? Do you discuss diets or food restrictions where children can hear?
Once you have taken some time to recognize your own language and behavior around food, you can begin to change it in subtle ways.
If you don’t want your child to throw a fit when you serve them vegetables, you shouldn’t throw one, either! If you want your child to notice their body’s fullness cues, don’t insist on a clean plate. If you want your child to select food for its nutritional value and satiating qualities, keep diet talk to a minimum.
You might find that this helps impact your own health and wellness journey in positive ways! Once you have made a few small adjustments, there are a few explicit tips and tricks that you can try.
Eat as a Family
The trope of ‘the family dinner’ has become a trope for a reason! Children need to see how adults eat, interact with, and talk about food. This is how they learn table manners and healthy eating habits.
Even the youngest children can benefit from a seat at a table! Mobile infants and toddlers are observant and love to model behavior that they see. Pull up the highchair and let your little one join the table, especially if they show interest!
Eating together as a family is also a great way to encourage mindfulness surrounding food. The focus should be on food and conversation, not distracting screens and media. This will help children notice fullness and hunger cues and respond to the needs of their bodies.
Some children pick away at meals or avoid their plates altogether, especially if you allow them to play at the table. The family meal should be an efficient affair. All family members should strive to enjoy their meal during a reasonable period of time.
Keeping to a regular, predictable meal schedule can also help children eat mindfully. Kids are naturally drawn to routines, and bodies are, too. With routines in place, your child’s hunger cues will sync up with meal and snack times, and there will be fewer battles at the table.
Children, like adults, can form unconscious biases about what they think they like. A bad experience with spinach might lead to trepidation surrounding broccoli. Provide variety, and encourage tasting, but don’t demand a clear plate.
Remember that children need many exposures to a new food before they can decide if they like it. They might need to see the food on their plate as many as twenty times to form a clear opinion!
Some children do have an anxiety response to certain foods, and this is a normal part of development. Continue to offer these foods, but don’t force-feed or require that they taste anything that is causing distress. Instead, model your own enjoyment, and talk about the positive effects of the food on your body.
For example, you might say, “I like broccoli because it makes my body feel warm and energetic. It helps fill my belly up quicker and makes it easier to go to the bathroom.”
If a child shows an adverse response to a food, take it out of the rotation for a few days or weeks and try again.
Furthermore, do not confuse offering variety with cooking to order. Children should be free to make choices, but not demands. If they only gravitate toward one part of the meal, talk to them about what they liked about it and why.
Over time, you will learn more about your child’s palette. At the same time, your child will begin to learn the importance of healthy eating habits.
Food Is Not a Reward
Never use food as a reward or withhold it as a punishment. This includes requiring children to “earn dessert” by cleaning their plates. You may ask that your child eat some of their meal before serving dessert, but attaching such strong associations to “good foods” and “bad foods” can be damaging.
Furthermore, don’t withhold certain foods, regardless of your child’s body shape or size. Instead, take the opportunity to talk about moderation and “sometimes” foods. Nobody needs to eat ice cream every day, but nobody deserves to live in a world without it!
Healthy Eating Is a Family Affair
Raising healthy eaters begins with a healthy awareness of your own internalized feelings toward food. Once you have acknowledged and addressed those ingrained feelings, you will be on your way to building healthy eating habits in your child. Embrace these tips, and you can raise a healthy eater!
Ingredia is on a mission to encourage healthy eating habits in children and adults across the country. If you would like to learn more, contact us to learn about how we are making dairy products healthier for everyone.