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  • Part 2

    celebration

    How to help

    children develop

    ?

    How to help

    children develop

    healthy ea ting

    habits? Gr habits

    owth and development of dietary Family educationTips for eating out or during Home-school cooperation

    Part 2 Online version

  • 1. Growth and development of dietary habits

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    Early childhood (aged 2-6) is an important stage for growth and development. The ways of learning and dietary habits of young children will change as they grow. Parents may help children lay a good foundation for building healthy dietary habits by taking note of the following developmental characteristics :

    Love to share Share healthy food with them in daily life as this may increase their acceptance of a variety of food.

    Curious about new things Introduce new food items as this promotes exposure to unfamiliar food thus reducing the chance of picky eating.

    Begin to understand routines and patterns Encourage children to have their daily meals at regular hours.

    The link between nutrition and learning ability A lot of medical research has shown that nutritional status may affect children’s attention span, which may in turn affect their cognitive development and learning performance. Thus having good dietary habits, including taking a balanced diet and eating breakfast every day, is particularly important.

  • 2. Family education

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    Set a good example Family can greatly affect the dietary habit formation of a young child. Parents and elder family members are the role models from whom children will learn eating patterns and food preference. Therefore, it is necessary to set good examples such as having a balanced diet, taking regular meals, eating more vegetables and avoiding junk food and picky eating.

    Nutritional education starts at home Under the guidance of parents, children can learn about food and nutrition in everyday life and can be encouraged to try new food so that the problem of picky eating can be resolved gradually. The followings are some “golden opportunities” to arouse children’s interest in healthy eating.

  • Shopping time: Parents or carers may explore new food items with children in markets or supermarkets. You can also make use of these opportunities to introduce the characteristics of different foods to children (e.g. Which ones are vegetables? Which ones are seasonal food?) and pick the food for lunch/dinner to encourage them to eat a wide variety of food.

    Cooking time: Children may help with some simple and safe tasks such as washing vegetables, removing seeds with a spoon, cutting bananas into small pieces with a fork, mixing seasonings and food ingredients, or putting spreads on bread. These can promote young children’s acceptance and interest towards food, and they will look forward to eating their own “product”!

    Story time: When choosing or reading storybooks, it will be

    best if parents could check for content(s) going against the principles of healthy eating, and provide explanation and guidance to children when necessary.

    Reward time: Children should be rewarded if they behave well. Yet it is not appropriate to give food as a reward as this will hinder the development of good dietary habits (For details, please refer to “Must Read: The truth is…” in Part 6). Remember to reward them in ways and means other than food.

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  • Precious dining time

    Actions speak louder than words – Through the practice of healthy cooking at home and eating together, children will have more opportunities to try new food and can be encouraged to learn healthy eating. Children will enjoy the food if the atmosphere at mealtime is harmonious and happy. There should be no nagging, scolding or tempting either. Furthermore, there are some points to note:

    Avoid putting extra seasonings on table (e.g. salt, soy sauce) Provide a small portion to children first to prevent wastage. This

    will enable them to develop a sense of satisfaction after finishing the small portions and parents may then consider giving more if indicated. Parents may wish their children to eat more, but a big portion may bring pressure particularly for those children with small appetite, making the situation worse.

    Learn good table manners (including turning off the TV, no gobbling, no playing during eating) so that children will keep their focus on food. In this way, they will feel full without overeating, thus cultivating healthy dietary habits.

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    3. Tips for eating out or during celebration

    Eating out Many parents often dine out with their children. Bear in mind the following and order healthy dishes to avoid the pitfalls of high salt, high fat and high sugar:

    Order food based on the “Healthy Eating Food Pyramid”. Grains should take up the largest amount, followed by vegetables. Meat should constitute the least. Note the cooking method: Choose steamed, baked, grilled, poached or stewed dishes.

    Avoid dishes cooked with sauces high in fat or salt such as white sauce, cream sauce, Portuguese style sauce, curry sauce added with coconut milk, teriyaki sauce, etc. Alternately, request the sauce to be served separately.

    Choose wholegrain products or grains with higher dietary fibre contents (e.g. red rice, brown rice, multi-grains bread, wholemeal bread, oatmeal, etc.). Avoid those high in fat such as E-fu noodle, instant noodle, “yau mian” (oily noodle) and French fries, etc.

    Avoid processed food, cured food, fatty cut of meat and poultry with skin, such as chicken wings and paws, pork bone, ribs, beef briskets, pork belly, pork cheek, etc.

    For desserts, choose fruit or fruit-based ones.

  • For drinks, water is the best choice. Avoid drinks with added sugar or those containing caffeine (e.g. soft drinks, fruit juice with added sugar, tea, coffee , etc.)

    When ordering food, make reasonable requests such as “less salt”, “less oil”, “less sugar”, “sauce to be separately served”, “no sauce” and have the syrup separately served for drinks and desserts.

    Nowadays, many restaurants are willing to cater to the needs of customers. For the health of your family, ask for “less oil”, “less salt” and “less sugar” when making your order!

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  • Healthy birthday party

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    In children’s birthday parties, “party” food and drinks that are high in fat, salt or sugar (e.g. cream cake, fried chicken wings, potato chips, sweets, soft drinks, etc.) are often provided. In many cases, friends and families may also give high-fat and high-sugar food, e.g. sweets or chocolate, as presents which are also detrimental to health. Also, children will easily associate these “party” food or “presents” with “joyful experience” or “happiness”. The association with foods high in salt, oil and sugar in birthday parties will affect their formation of healthy eating habits in later life. Indeed, such adverse effects will not only affect your children but also those from other families. Parents should thus organise “healthy birthday parties” to foster children’s development of proper eating attitudes.

    Here are some tips:

    Focus on something else other than food during birthday parties. Games, magic shows, costume parties or picnics are good choices. Do not create a fun-filled atmosphere consisting only of “party food”.

    Choose healthier ingredients, if food is being served. A fun-filled atmosphere can be created with a wide variety of healthy food of different colours and shapes.

    Choose sponge cake instead of cream cake that contains a lot of fat. You may decorate the sponge cake with fresh fruits for the celebration.

    Do not provide drinks and foods that are high in sugar such as soft drink, fruit juice with added sugar, sweets, chocolate, etc.

    Give stationery, stickers, storybooks and toys instead of food as presents.

    For birthday party in schools, please follow the school’s healthy eating policy. If you need to bring food to school for sharing , prepare healthier ones such as fruit, sushi or sandwich (using healthy fillings such as egg, cucumber, chicken fillet or mango).

  • Recommendations for festivals and celebrations

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