Do you ever find yourself questioning what to feed your child? As a parent, it can be challenging to know what to put on their plate in today’s world. There are many mixed messages and misinformation regarding nutrition, many of which are common myths that can be busted. In this article, you will learn about five common nutrition myths and the truth behind them.
Myth 1: Children do not need to eat or drink Vitamin D (because they get it from the sun).
Myth Busted: Vitamin D is a vital nutrient, especially for infants and children. Infants who are breastfed or partially breastfed should supplement Vitamin D until they are weaned to Vitamin D-fortified formula (1). As children begin to eat solid foods, parents should incorporate Vitamin D-rich foods and beverages into their diets.
Instead: Include Vitamin D-rich foods and beverages such as fortified milk and yogurt, eggs, canned tuna, salmon, and fortified cereals. You can also continue to supplement your child with Vitamin D to meet their daily nutrient requirements.
Myth 2: Fresh fruits and veggies are better than frozen.
Myth Busted: Frozen Produce is nutritionally similar to fresh produce. Research shows that frozen fruits and vegetables may have higher vitamin C levels than produce that sits at home for several days (2).
Instead: If possible, freshly picked fruits and vegetables from your garden or local farm have the highest quality of nutrients. However, if you do not have access to this kind of produce, frozen produce is an excellent alternative with equal nutrition to fresh varieties. Choose a mix of both fresh and frozen produce to fit your family’s needs best.
Myth 3: Sugar is bad.
Myth Busted: Not all sugar is bad for your health. The two types of sugar consumed in diets are refined sugar and natural sugar. Refined sugars are sugars such as white or brown sugar. These sugars are ones that they process and strip of their nutrients. Raw sugar is a little less processed, along with other natural sweeteners such as honey or agave; these sugars offer some nutrients in addition to just sugar alone. Sugar found naturally in whole fruits, milk, and complex carbohydrates provide the most nutrition for the whole package. Naturally, occurring sugar contains vitamins, minerals, and fiber that our bodies use to make glucose and aid in other important body functions.
Instead: When choosing sweeteners for baking or cooking, choose natural sweeteners such as honey or agave. The best option for sugar is naturally occurring sugar in whole fruits, milk, and complex carbohydrates. These can offer the most nutrition when compared to other forms of sugar. Remember, our bodies need sugar (aka glucose) to function properly and give our bodies the energy it needs. Sugar is not the enemy when it comes to health; as with any nutrient, moderation is key!
Myth 4: Children should eat from each food group at every meal.
Myth Busted: Eating from each food group is important, but it does not need to happen at every meal. As a parent, it is your job to decide what food to offer and when, and it is your child’s job to determine if they will eat and how much. It is important to look at your child’s diet over the course of a week as opposed to a daily basis. As long as they get adequate nutrients over the week, they do not need to eat all food groups at every meal.
Instead: Provide a balanced meal in appropriate serving sizes, and your child will decide what and how much to eat. Allowing your child to have autonomy over their food intake will enable them to listen to their bodies’ hunger and fullness cues and have a healthier relationship with food.
Myth 5: All carbs are bad.
Myth Busted: Carbohydrates are a primary source of energy for your body throughout the day. There are two types of carbohydrates in your diet: simple and complex. Simple carbs consist of one to two sugar molecules, and the body absorbs them quickly. Eating foods containing these carbs can lead to a spike in blood sugar that leaves you hungry and tired shortly after. Complex carbs take longer to break down in your body; they have three or more sugar molecules in a complex chain. Foods containing these types of carbs give your body more sustained energy.
Instead: Focus on getting the most nutrition out of your carbohydrate choices. These include foods that are high in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Some excellent sources of complex carbs include starchy vegetables, legumes, whole fruits, and whole grains.
- Vitamin D. (2020, October 08). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/diet-and-micronutrients/vitamin-d.html
- Favell, D. (1998, July 29). A comparison of the vitamin c content of fresh and frozen vegetables. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0308814697001659?via%3Dihub