Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Brain development before age 3

A study published in the British Medical Journal in February of this year discussed the importance of brain development before the age of 3. The study claimed that children's diets before the age of 3 have a strong potential of affecting their IQ.

The reason? The brain is growing at an accelerated rate during the first three years of life.  Developing brains need a diet filled with good fats and a variety of fruits and vegetables. They need less processed foods and more natural foods.

The study categorized three basic diets:
processed - which is packed with fats, sugar and convenience foods
traditional - which is filled with meats and vegetables
health conscious - which is plenty of fruit, vegetables, salads, rice and pasta.

What I've discovered in my reading about kids and nutrition, is that when children are fed foods high in sugar and salt, their palettes begin to crave sugar and salt rather than fruits and vegetables. I absolutely believe what I feed Samuel and Lauren today will impact their palette cravings later in life.

One day in April I took a picture of Samuel's lunch. Why? I have no idea. But it's a good example of two things:

1 - kids don't need a 'main dish' like adults often do. If we provide them with lots of healthy choices, they can pick and choose what they eat and they will fill their tummies with high-fat, protein-laden foods.

2 - how to include various fruits and vegetables in a meal. Samuel loves dipping (as most kids do) and at this meal I gave Samuel hummus and peanut butter for dipping.

McMama does a great job of explaining some of her thoughts about nutrition here. And she has five children. I only have two. So definitely read what she has to say! Unfortunately her link about 11 things doesn't seem to be working and that's where I first got the idea to feed my kiddos lots of small, healthy choices and let them eat what they want. Because truly it's all about the choices!

So as I'm striving to limit my children’s consumption of sweet and salty snacks, and processed foods, I am also working to offer a variety of fruits and veggies in their natural state. Some days are better than others. Currently the only veggie Lauren will eat is sweet potatoes. So I buy 5 a week. But I offer her a little bit of every vegetable I serve Samuel. Today she ate a carrot, spit it out and then put the carrot stick back in her mouth again. We'll get there. Eventually.

Quotes like these inspire me to continue on this road to healthy eating:

"The diet they become comfortable eating during these early years will help them to develop optimally and avoid the many diseases that plaque adults throughout life." - British Medical Journal


Becky said...

I never knew that about kids not needing a "main dish" - very interesting! I love the idea of serving lots of little things. I know Joshua has been eating pretty healthy in Korea and I really want to keep up with that once he is home.

By the way, would you happen to remember where you got that plate, I have been looking for something like that.

schumt said...

Very timely, Stacy! I just read a newspaper article that said over 30% of Arkansans are obese and 66% are either obese or overweight. When it comes to kids, I think about 20% are obese. That's scary. I was about to look in the Star Trib to see if they had a similar article for MN, but stopped by your blog first. I'll have to keep this stuff in mind when it's my turn to be a mom!

Tami Shaver

Stacy said...

My mom got the kids two for Christmas gifts. I think they were from the dollar section at Target. They don't store as easily, but they are fun to put various foods in all the sections! I love that you said once Joshua is 'home.' Excited to celebrate that day with you and praying alongside you.