HomeNutritionThe Components of a Healthy Diet for Your Obese Children

The Components of a Healthy Diet for Your Obese Children

Now let’s look at the main components of a healthy diet in more detail, so that you can understand which of these foods are best for youf child in the fight against weight gain and obesity, and which should be avoided whenever possible. It makes sense to start with fats

Despite the impression given by the press, fat is necessary for growing bodies, and a shortage may lead to cravings and health problems. Low-fat products are not of any real benefit in the fight against obesity. Indeed, they teach children that junk food or fatty foods are fine in their diets, as long as their fat content is reduced. For obvious reasons, this does nothing to educate them about healthy eating habits. Low-fat crisps are no better than full-fat crisps, nor are half-fat cheeses a better alternative to the full-fat variety.

Again, it is the type of fat that makes the difference. There are a number of different types of fats and familiarizing yourself with them will help you to make the right choices for your children – and indeed the whole family.

Fats to avoid

Trans fats
The most harmful type of fats are trans fats, the type that most often appear in ‘low-fat’ or modified foods, as well as most junk and convenience foods – and very often the type aimed at kids. Trans fats are produced through hydrogenation, a chemical process that adds hydrogen to an unsaturated fat, such as a vegetable oil, in | order to make it solid or spreadable. Trans fats are strongly associated with an increased risk of heart disease. What’s more, they appear to be even worse for health than saturated fats because in addition to raising bad cholesterol, they may lower good cholesterol. They are also now being linked with certain cancers.

Trans fatty acids lengthen the shelf life of products and hence they’re commonly found in processed foods, commercial baked goods (such as biscuits, cakes and doughnuts) and many margarines. Of course, foods will not list trans fats in the ingredients list on the label – instead it will say ‘hydrogenated’ vegetable oil or fat. Some foods are ‘partially hydrogenated’, which means that they are partially hardened – these too should be avoided because of the high levels of trans fats.

Fats to eat sparingly

Saturated fats

You may be surprised to see this here, as saturated fats have been considered the bad guy for many years – and with some justification. Saturated fats are found in animal products such as butter, cheese, fatty meats, whole milk, cream and ice cream. They are also found in some vegetable oils, such as coconut, palm and palm kernel oils.

A diet high in saturated fat increases the quantity of ‘bad’ cholesterol in the body and is one of the major risk factors for heart disease. Too much fat also increases the risk of heart disease because its high calorie content increases the likelihood of obesity.

Diets high in fat, especially saturated fat, affect the way your child’s body responds to sugar, and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. Their bodies can cope with a relatively small intake of excess fats, however, if your child gets more than 35 per cent of his calories from fat, he’s eating too much. Conversely, any less may not do him any favours either. A 2004 study found that youngsters who ate moderate amounts of any type of fat – 30 to 35 per cent of total calories-weighed less than those who ate either more or less.

Ultimately, a good healthy diet, with some dairy produce (including some butter and cheese), meat, vegetables, poultry, fish, fruits, vegetables and a good source of carbohydrates will never include too much fat. It’s the junk food and the convenience foods – which tend to be very high in saturated fats (and trans fats) – that tip the scale and make a diet unhealthy. It’s also worth noting that if fats – even saturated fats – are eaten with plenty of fruits and vegetables, their impact is not as dangerous. The reason for this is that fruits and vegetables contain ‘antioxidants’, which limit the damage that fat has on your child’s body. That’s just one reason why a balanced diet is so important.

So the occasional ice cream, bit of butter on your child’s morning toast or a cheese sandwich is not going to cause problems, even if they do contain saturated fats.
Fats that are OK to eat more often

Polyunsaturated fats
These form the basis of a group of fats known as ‘essential fatty acids’, and the reason they are called ‘essential’ is because your child cannot do without them – and neither can you. The problem is that these fatty acids are in short supply in the average Western diet, and in even shorter supply in our children’s diets, as they are found mainly in vegetable and fish oils and oily fish. As an essential fatty acid, polyunsaturates have lots of important roles: they help to lower blood cholesterol if they are used in the place of saturated fats, they also help to keep the blood thin, relax blood vessels, lower blood pressure, help maintain the water balance in the body, decrease inflammation and pain, improve nerve function, maintain immunity, affect your child’s brain function and metabolism, and balance blood sugar – everything your child needs to contribute to good short- and long-term health. And in the fight against obesity, some of these roles are crucial. Oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel and herring, are good sources. So too are seeds and plant and seed oils. The best are hemp, linseed, safflower, sunflower, corn, pumpkin, walnut, sesame, soya and wheatgerm.

Polyunsaturated oils are healthy unless they are heated, at which point they become unstable and decidedly unhealthy. This is an important consideration. Many people think that using vegetable oils in cooking will add to their children’s intake of healthy oils.lt won’t if it’s been heated; in this case it will become a health hazard Only ‘raw’ oils are good sources of key nutrients. The best way to increase polyunsaturates is to add lots of oily fish (you can at least try!) and seeds to your child’s diet.

Monounsaturated fats
Sources of monounsaturated fats include olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds and rapeseed oil. Monounsaturated fats are among the healthiest fats, as they are believed not only to lower levels of bad cholesterol, but to boost levels of good cholesterol. They are believed to be one of the main factors in the well-publicized healthinessoi the Mediterranean diet, which is linked to increased longevity, reduced risk of cancer and a lower incidence of heart disease and obesity. Incorporate them into your child’s diet from an early age-choose olive oil for cooking (it’s more stable than a polyunsaturated oil) and offer olives and avocados regularly.

Ground nuts and seeds can be incorporated in your child’s diet from the age of about three. It’s worth including these elements in a child’s diet from a young age, as they can play an important role in maintaining health.

In a nutshell
– The healthiest fats are the naturally occurring non-animal fats that have not been chemically altered. These include polyunsaturated fats (in vegetables oils, fish oils and seeds and seed oils) and monounsaturated fats (found in nuts, olive oil and avocados).
– Saturated fats are OK in small quantities, but are best eaten as natural, largely unprocessed foods (yogurt, milk, butter, cheese and meat) and with fruit and vegetables, which can help to prevent damaging effects. Crisps, baked goods, confectionery, chips and fried foods will contribute too much fat to your child’s diet, which is when it becomes unhealthy.
– The unhealthiest fats are any fat or oil from any source that has been hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated, or in any way chemically altered. Avoid these as much as possible.

Luckily, product labelling has made it much easier for us to assess the level of saturated fats in the foods we serve ourselves and our children. That’s not to say that we need to read the labels on every single thing we eat. Look at a few products from the supermarket shelves or your cupboard at home to get an idea of the types of products that are high in saturated fats. Fried foods, mayonnaise, pizza, burgers, many baked goods such as cakes and biscuits, and cooked meats such as salami, are all high in saturated fats. These types of processed sources of saturated fat need to be kept to a minimum.

Source by Terry G Ravary

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