Parents: Eat Healthy and So Will Your Kids

As parents, when it comes to teaching our children healthy eating habits, it’s important to look at our own eating habits first. The old adage, “Do as I say not as I do,” doesn’t quite add up when we’re teaching our children what to eat. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition backs this up. The lead researcher, Sharon Hoerr, MSU professor of food science and human nutrition, stated that restricting certain foods from children, and then eating those same foods in front of the children, can lead to unhealthy eating habits.

“Mothers should stop forcing or restricting their kids’ eating. They’d be better off providing a healthy food environment, adopting balanced eating habits themselves, and covertly controlling their children’s diet quality by not bringing less healthy foods into the house.”

To help encourage healthy eating habits, take your children grocery shopping and ask them to help you find healthy foods. Plant a vegetable garden with them if you can. Let them help you cook healthy meals as a way to connect them to the foods they eat. Talk about what nutrients are found in the foods and how those nutrients help our body’s function well. Plant these seeds early in the hopes that they will develop strong roots as your children grow up to make choices on their own.

Don’t Forget the Vitamin D!

We hear a lot about the importance of vitamin A, vitamin C, and those good-for-you B vitamins, but it’s not so often we hear about another vitamin that scientists believe may also play a crucial role in maintaining superior health throughout life. These days, however, new research into the remarkable health benefits of vitamin D is beginning to change all of that.  

Vitamin D directly affects more than 200 genes in the body, and studies show that it plays a significant role in stimulating a healthy immune response. In fact, a new study conducted by a team of British and Canadian scientists links too little vitamin D in the diet with an increased risk of certain autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and type 1 diabetes, as well as a higher risk of certain cancers.

Researchers say it has to do with the way vitamin D binds with specific chromosomes, but the problem comes from a widespread lack of vitamin D in the diet. About one billion people worldwide are vitamin D deficient, which may increase their susceptibility to certain diseases. And as people spend less time outdoors (the body produces vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight), the problem is getting worse.

Because too little vitamin D can lead to a breakdown in overall health, many experts are now recommending steps to remedy the problem. Certain foods such as eggs and fatty fish contain vitamin D, and many fish oil supplements will include vitamin D to help make up for what’s lacking in the diet. Pregnant women and young children especially may benefit from a daily vitamin D supplement for preventative health, and spending at least 10 minutes in the sun each day is also recommended.