It is never too early to adopt healthy habits to foster a lifetime of liver health. If you have children and want to reduce the risk of future liver disease, my Liver Exam, in partnership with nutritionist Audrey Cyr, gives you some tips and tricks.
New diet recommendations are more focused on proportions rather than portion sizes.
Vegetables and fruits
Vegetables and fruits should be particularly important in your children’s diet. Make sure there is a vegetable or fruit at all meals and snacks. This group of foods will provide fiber, vitamins and minerals that help the liver to work efficiently. Vegetables can be served raw, cooked, homemade soup, canned, frozen, in salad.
No matter how you present them, make sure you have them on the plate and vary. Children tend to eat with their eyes so do not hesitate to mix colors, textures and shapes to make the dish as attractive as possible.
Whole Grain Products
Grain products should be present at all meals, but in smaller quantities. It is important that these products have not undergone through any transformation (or very little).
Among them are quinoa, wild or whole rice, hulled barley, whole grain bread, oatmeal or whole wheat pasta, for example. These products provide fiber and vitamin B complex, necessary for liver health.
Finally, we should find in the plate of our children foods rich in protein, namely meat, poultry, fish and iron, eggs, yogurt, milk and cheese. It is recommended to opt for plant-based proteins such as legumes, tofu, nuts and seeds more often. In many scientific studies, vegetable proteins have demonstrated benefits in terms of preventing chronic diseases.1
The best beverage for children should be water and small amounts of juice (maximum 125 ml / day) as well as milk. The amount of milk must be influenced by the child’s total calcium intake.
Children often have reduced appetites. It is therefore important to provide them with small amounts of food, and regularly. When your child does not eat much, insist on the quality and variety of foods. Snacks should be taken no later than 2 hours before meals. You should also pay attention to the amount of fluid consumed during or before the meal, as this can cut off the appetite.
Do not try to reduce the fat intake of your child but rather to choose it better. A fat restriction could have a negative impact on its growth and nutritional status. Bet on fish and seafood, nuts, seeds, nut butters, avocado, olive or canola oils that contain good quality fats.
Foods to limit
Limit the consumption of refined sugars found in sweet breakfast cereals, cookies, cakes, donuts, muffins, jams, caramel, pastries, cereal bar, ice cream, candy, fruit cocktail, chocolate, soft drinks, etc. These are not nutritious and do not satisfy, in addition to contributing to tooth decay. Also beware of sweeteners such as sucralose or aspartame which have a more pronounced sweetness and can help develop the “sweet tooth”. Your child may have difficulty getting used to vegetables that have a rather bitter taste.
I do not want to eat broccoli…
Food neophobia or fear of novelty usually appears around the age of 2 to reach a peak around 3 or 4 years, and then decrease around 8 years. When your child refuses food, introduce them anyway so that they become familiar. With vegetables? Present them in various ways: cooked, raw with dip, in soup, in a sauce, or au gratin.
Children learn by imitating so all family members should serve as an example. Did you know that it takes sometimes more than 10 to 12 exposures to food before the child begins to accept it? Do not force him/her to finish his/her plate.
Ask the question: “Are you sure that you have eaten enough? «
Then, continue with the dessert that should not become an object of desire. It can be part of the meal and be of good nutritional quality (yogurt / fruit / homemade muffin for example), all served in normal portion.
In conclusion, no food should be seen as a reward because punishing or rewarding your child with food prevents him/her from listening well to his/her hunger and satiation signals, in addition to making the food more interesting.
Why not invite your child to participate in either planning, preparation or even serving meals? He/she will feel more involved. The moment of the meal must be pleasant, a moment where the family is around the table and without any distraction.
- Tharrey M, Mariotti F, Mashchak A, Barbillon P, Delattre M, Fraser GE. Patterns of plant and animal protein intake are strongly associated with cardiovascular mortality: the Adventist Health Study-2 cohort. Int J Epidemiol. 2018 Oct 1;47(5):1603-1612.