Sometimes it seems like one subject just shouts out to be the subject of a blog post -- and today that subject is nutrition.
First, we came upon an engaging new book called Jesse's Magic Plate - The Fun Way for Kids to Learn About Healthy Eating, by Donna Daun Lester, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and teacher.
Written as a read-aloud story for children as young as three and to be read on their own by older children, this colorfully illustrated book uses a magical plate to explain healthy eating in terms children can apply to their own eating preferences. Lester uses the idea of "power foods" and the benefits they bring to children to encourage children to try new, healthy foods. As the magical plate explains to Jesse when telling him about the importance of eating colorful fruits and vegetables, "We feel our best when we eat them, but it may take some practice to like some of them."
The book is based upon the USDA My Plate food guidance system, and Lester urges her readers to visit the site and use its wealth of information.
Jesse's Magic Plate includes separate sections with lists of healthy foods, broken down by category -- protein, grains, vegetables, etc. -- along with colorful illustrations of food groups. Several pages of illustrated faces and other components for children to use to make their own "magic" plates are also included.We particularly liked that this book is designed for children, to help them understand the benefits of healthy eating and the steps they need to take to make eating better part of their daily lives. Parents can't always be around to help children make smart food choices and it is crucial to empower kids to enable them to make wise food decisions on their own.
Of course, not every food is right -- or even safe -- for every child, and food allergies can be a huge concern for many families. We recently encountered the mouth-watering baked goods created by No Nut Nation, which are certified free of peanuts and tree nuts. If this is an issue for a child or an adult in your life, this can be a delicious solution to finding safe prepared baked goods.
And, finally, a new article published as a supplement to Pediatrics earlier this week, builds on studies of a group of about 1,500 children who were followed closely up to age one. The follow up studies looked at several aspects of the children's nutrition when they reached age six. Among the findings were that early preferences for fruits and vegetables -- and for sugary beverages -- developed during the first year of life were still evident at six years of age. As the researchers noted, "It is not clear whether these associations reflect the development of taste preference during infancy or a family eating pattern that manifests at various ages, but the studies do point to the need to establish healthful eating behaviors early in life."