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Nutrition Education to Young Parents

Posted by Priya Eapen on Fri, Jan 26, 2018  
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Early onset of lifestyle diseases especially obesity, stress and anxiety has reached an alarming level in children of all age groups.  Better living standards or the buying power and technology have made an entry into the lifestyle of each home.  Thus, it is challenging to bring up children that follow a regimen of good health and maintenance.  The role of parents here is vital since children can adapt easily by observation or by following a healthy active lifestyle together as a family. 

Thus emphasis is laid on young parents to adopt a healthy lifestyle in their children.  Today, since both parents are involved in the overall development of their children, imparting nutrition education to parents is vital as to achieve physical, mental and social well being, which defineshealth.

 Schools now have the active participation of both parents to highlight the strengths and weakness of a child with regards to their physical and mental abilities.  Thus, parents again have a great influence in cultivating healthy choices.  As young parents they need to be a great role model. The child slowly picks up these attributes and develop a positive approach towards his/her eating habits.

 Certain factors have found to be very effective in imparting nutrition education.  It is important to be aware of the objectives and set goals so as to develop a healthy environment within the family.

 Objectives of Nutrition Education:

 

  • First and foremost is awareness of what can be “eaten more” and “eaten less.”  This brings an understanding of general healthy eating habits.
  • Nutritional needs at various stages of growth.
  • Cooking skills required to optimize maximum nutrition.
  • Awareness of nutrition labels on products so as to select the best product available.
  • Promoting healthy diet to prevent and control diseases.

 

Goals:

  • To improve good family practices in a more practical and convincing manner.
  • To motivate to adopt intelligent ways of using available food.
  • To develop healthy attitude and knowledge.
  • To emphasize relationship between nutrition, physical activity and health.
  • To improve health status by making changes in diet and physical activity.

 

 

Methods:

 

  • Presentations through audio-visual aids.
  • Counseling sessions.
  • Providing booklets, pamphlets etc.
  • Participation of parents in nutrition education campaigns.

 

How can Nutrition Education be made effective?

 

Educational programs should consider the following:

 

  • Biological factors:  Such as sensitivity to certain types of food.  This does lessen somewhat as we get older.
  • Experiences with food:  To overcome fears of new foods through repeated exposure in the company of family members or other supportive adults.
  • Personal factors:  Include knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, skills.
  • Environmental factors: Such as availability, accessibility and affordability of food items.

 

Studies have shown that effective Nutrition Education should include:

  • A focus on specific behavior.
  • Active participation of parents.
  • Take into account motivation, needs, interest, perception, desires.
  • Self-assessment and feedback.
  • Addressing changes at both individual and environmental level.
  • Sufficient time in imparting.
  • Helping to familiarize with healthy foods.
  • Culturally sensitive programs.

 

Outcomes of Nutrition Education:

 

  • A change in personal, cultural and spiritual beliefs with regards to food choices.  Relationship of nutrition and metabolism and the maintenance of health and treatment of disease.
  • Understanding of the impact of lifestyle on health, the ways one can modify lifestyle to promote health.
  • Ability to recognize the limitation in one’s knowledge about nutrition and health.

Adopting these practices does turn out fruitful as they slowly adapt well to healthier choices later as they grow up as adults.

 

Adopting Healthy Practices

 

Here is a look into my personal experience of imparting healthy lifestyle in kids as they turn old enough to be handed over the car keys or leave them to the world out there.  Very soon they will be finding their our own pastures with values I have embedded in them, values that start from humility to setting goals, first bringing character into oneself and then building a career.

 

When it comes to imbibing healthy choices it was tough as they would come home and feel sad and thought their mother never knew to cook. Because my lunch-box would carry only more browns (I meant the healthier version of breads) less oil and no store brought stuffs. The fridge would never be stocked with carbonated drinks.  I and my mom would always find time and pleasure in making seasonal juices/jams and we would always stick to making something that could be made in a faster way without losing texture, colour or taste.  It was difficult for them to get adapted to see less oily chicken curry or sautéed veggies on their plate. They found it frustrating that everything that tasted good had no great value to their calories per say.  Like for example, when they eat those juicy sandwiches with veggies cut in thin slices, it tasted far better.  Here I have to make them understand that they are cut in thin slices and kept for a long time by which time it loses its nutrient value and how it can be made in a similar healthier way by fixing one at home and having it immediately. And how the oil that floats could actually do nothing good to you, that you can easily cook the same recipe in a better healthier way.

 

Looking back even though they had less tasty happy hours, today they are able to stick to it with ease.  They now find it easier to pick up a brown to a white or for anything that matter when it comes to food.

 

I have also noticed many times that mothers tend to panic if children skip a meal at times.  This anxiety continues even when the child has matured into a teenager or late teens.  The result is that the child never learns to adapt to a situation or will find it more difficult to adjust to healthy living practices at a later age.  This is why many kind of psychological illness take place; they are not able to follow a new routine because they have been always fed or rather over fed throughout their lives.  We need to take it at ease that skipping a meal once or twice in a month is fine or making them forcefully fill is not a great idea.  We have to leave them alone.  Here I am not talking about children who have a tendency of skipping meals regularly.  This again needs to be handled tactfully by looking into various factors.

 

 

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