Nutrition now sets the stage for adulthood

Good Sense eating - January 2007


Christine M. Palumbo, RD

Parents have always been interested in their children's eating habits. Worries about getting enough vegetables or protein are as universal as toys strewn everywhere. But nutrition was rarely discussed outside the home.

Times have changed. Nutrition is making headlines. Why? A growing body of research suggests that good nutrition can help prevent disease and influence performance--for adults and children alike.

Believe it or not, health decisions you make for a 5-year-old today can impact her health and well-being when she is 50. Childhood is the best time to protect a child from cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and even Alzheimer's disease. Studies show that adult diseases clearly begin in childhood (even going back to the womb).

In some cases, childhood presents the only opportunity to influence certain areas of adult health. Growth and cell division in many parts of the body happen only in childhood. That's why the foods and nutrients kids eat can have an impact on lifelong health-a concept known as metabolic programming.

Eating behavior and food preferences also become ingrained in childhood and the teen years. So now is the time to influence kids with their eating and beverage habits.

In this column, we'll discuss traditional concerns, such as dealing with picky eaters, appropriate portion sizes, snacking and getting a meal on the table fast. You'll learn tips on eating out, whether it's white tablecloth or the drive-thru. We'll discuss sports nutrition, including what to serve before the big game and afterwards, plus ideas for days when you're "snack mom."

We'll also cover newer issues, such as organic foods, Type 2 diabetes, nutritional aspects of ADHD, food coloring, early dieting behavior and the pros and cons of the different types of milks (dairy, soy and rice).

It's no secret that childhood obesity is on the rise and a widespread concern. We will critically examine childhood obesity, discuss possible causes and identify ways to prevent it.

It has never been easy raising children to be healthy eaters. The challenges are even greater today-highly processed foods that are high in sugar, sodium or fat, the challenges of getting meals on the table in spite of hectic schedules, advertising aimed toward young children, enormous restaurant portion sizes, sugary beverages like energy drinks and coffee bar options and many more.

You have questions about what and how to feed your growing families. I am here to help.

In case you're wondering, I have three children of my own, although they are now grown. But the challenges of trying to feed them right are unforgettable. Yes, I've made mistakes, just as you have. And I've experienced dinner tantrums and peas hidden within the leaves of the kitchen table. (What else did you hide, Lisa?)

A little bit about me: I have been a registered dietitian for 30 years, and started my career working in diabetes and heart disease at several medical centers. Like many of you, I took some time off when my children were small. In 1989, I got back into my field. I am currently in private practice and love to speak on nutrition issues. I also analyze recipes for nutritional content and do occasional corporate consulting. Since 2001, I have written the bimonthly Food News column for Allure magazine, and I also write for I am also active with the American Dietetic Association, serving on its board of directors.

Enough of me, I want to hear about you--your nutrition concerns and problems. This column will be about your children, so please send me your questions and I'll do my best to address them.

Christine M. Palumbo is a registered dietitian in private practice in Naperville. She is passionate about foods and nutrition and how they can influence health and energy levels. She can be reached at [email protected]

1 New Year's Day Roast beef (sirloin tip roast) Mashed potatoes Gravy from fat free beef drippings Steamed broccoli with cheese sauce Ice cream 2 Baked chicken fingers Baked honey carrots Brown rice Pudding 3 Fajitas made with leftover beef, red and white onions, green and red bell peppers wrapped in whole wheat tortillas. Serve with reduced fat sour cream and guacamole 4 Grilled turkey panini sandwiches Tossed green salad Apple pie 5 Takeout mixed veggie pizza Tossed green salad 8 Beef and broccoli stir fry served with brown rice (Double recipe) Oatmeal cookies 9 Baked macaroni & cheese Peas Applesauce 10 Leftover beef and broccoli stir fry and rice Chocolate chip cookies 11 Baked fish with almonds Steamed spinach with garlic and olive oil Boiled parsley red potatoes Sorbet 12 Grilled ham & cheese sandwiches Steamed green beans Apple pie 15 Chicken noodle soup with whole wheat crackers Pudding 16 Chili con carne Corn bread Tossed green salad 17 Veggie stir fry (chicken or tofu) Grapefruit sections Ice cream

18 Chili mac (leftover chili with macaroni added) Leftover cornbread Raw sugar snap peas 19 Sloppy Joes Carrot and celery sticks Fruited gelatin 22 Salmon marinated in lemon juice and olive oil Parsley red potatoes Steamed broccoli with lemon wedge Applesauce 23 Meat loaf Baked sweet potato fries Steamed green beans Tossed green salad 24 Grecian roasted chicken (marinate in lemon juice, olive oil and oregano) Bulgur pilaf Roasted root vegetables 25 Meat loaf sandwiches on whole wheat bread Tossed green salad Carrot sticks 26 Spaghetti with marinara sauce Italian bread Tossed green salad Spumoni 29 Tortilla soup Oatmeal cookies 30 Frittata with onions and peppers Tossed green salad Cup up fresh fruit 31 Baked chicken Couscous Corn Tossed green salad


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