November 29, 2012 by thehealthyheartcenter
Believe it or not, television does have a significant affect on nutrition, especially for children. Many kids spend a good deal of time in front of a TV and can be easily influenced to want the foods they see being advertised. The downside to this is that most of these products in food commericals are high in fat, sugar, and/or calories, as well as often lacking the vitamins, minerals, and fiber content that a body needs.
The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reported in a recent study that, on average, eating foods typically advertised on TV provides three times the amount of sugars, and two and a half times the amount of fat that is recommended in a day.
So what are effective ways to approaching your children’s tempations?
-Be present: Watch commericals with your kids and ask their opinion about the options they see on TV, and what they think might be tasty, as well as healthful choices.
*TIP: “Health” and “nutrition” are not big motivators to children’s decisions, so link healthy foods with things that are more meaningful to your kids, such as foods that will help them run fast, jump higher, be stronger, etc.
-Avoid speaking negatively about “junk” foods: Restricting or bad-mouthing these foods can increase children’s interest in them. They will not respond to this and it may ultimately work against your goal.
-Educate your children about their foods: Help them to learn about what is going into their meals. Teach them the meaning of words on a food label to see what is inside an advertised food they want to try. It’s a great way to discuss the nutrient value of a food.
*TIP: Try first sticking to easy ones like fat, sugar, and calories/energy so to not overwhelm them or try to explain harder terms and it go over their head.
-Introduce them to the kitchen: Let the kids jump in and have a more hands on experience with food and preparing meals. Take advantage of their curiousity and desire to discover with introducing them to flavors, shapes, and colors of healthy foods.
-Put limits to TV time: Do not allow sitting in front of the television to become the default activity for your kids because it is something easy to do for excessive periods of time. Set guidelines for when and how much TV is okay. Try to avoid simply telling them to turn off the TV and present them with fun options as alternatives- aim for ones that get them up and active.
-Turn it off at meals!: This is one of the best words of advice. Family meals are a prime opportunity to establish positive eating habits, good conversations, and better feelings about healthy foods. The family is one of the biggest influences on what and how children eat and the behaviors they will adapt. As a parent, it’s your job to control the foods that are easily accessible to eat, and what is offered at a meal.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children should not watch more than 2 hours of television a day, while most are watching well over this guideline. Children learn what they live, so the earlier parents start teaching kids about proper nutrition and exercise, the more likely they will be to carry those habits on into adulthood and lead healthier lives.