Empowering parents and caregivers with information and tools that are needed to make good choices for themselves and their families will ensure that children develop lifelong healthy eating habits that will help them reach their greatest potential

JOHN F. Kennedy once said: “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future”.

Over the last three decades, obesity rates in children have tripled in many countries worldwide and Malaysia is not far behind.

Raising public awareness on the issue is important to curb it and improve the health of our children.

One of the initiatives include empowering parents and caregivers with information and tools that are needed to make good choices for themselves and their families.

This will ensure that children develop lifelong healthy eating habits that, in turn, will help them reach their greatest potential.

A new generation of healthier and happier children will contribute to a more prosperous nation.

By combining comprehensive strategies with common sense, we can place our children on the path to a healthy future during their early years.

We can start with food.

After all, we all have to eat. We can show children a path towards a healthy lifestyle from a very young age.

In the words of Edgar W. Howe: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”.

Children pick up mannerisms, habits and behaviours from their parents. Eating is no different.

When parents talk about food, cook meals and eat, they impart an important lesson to their children in regards to their eating habits.

As role models, parents need to make sure they are demonstrating a healthy attitude toward food.

Research has shown that family mealtimes have a big impact on how children eat as they grow into adulthood and make food choices of their own.

Eating meals as a family is key to raising high achieving, healthy and well-adjusted children.

Eating together has been shown to improve a child’s academic achievement, self-esteem and greater interest in nutrition.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are truly nature’s gift to mankind. It is the ultimate fast food that comes in various colours and flavours.

Colourful crunchy fruits and vegetables are vital to a child’s diet. Both contain essential nutrients that are important for their health, growth and development.

We are lucky because our nation’s tropical climate creates a luxuriant plant life and produce a diversity of edible and succulent fruit and vegetables. They are affordable and can be bought all-year round.

We have been told that we should eat at least two fruits and five vegetables daily, but most children and adults do not.

We need to make a conscious effort to include more fruits and vegetables into our, and our families’, diets.

We should offer children fruits and vegetables every day.

Children’s serving sizes may be small, but remember any amount is better than none, and we should always find ways to include more.

Getting children to help you cook is one of the easiest ways to foster their love of food. They are more likely to try and love food that they helped prepare than meals that are precooked and placed in front of them.

Children’s tastes change with age; what they might not like today, they may like tomorrow, so keep trying.

The plating of fruits and vegetable is also important. A plate of fruits and vegetables of different colours arranged in an exciting way will make children want to eat them. In fact, we should make our plates look like a
crayola box.

The buzzword today is to have a rainbow diet that is attractive, delicious and easy to prepare.

Mohana Gill is a multiple award-winning author, whose dream is to leave a healthy living and wellness legacy for future generations