According to the Spanish Society of Outpatient Pediatrics and Primary Care, 71% of children consume their meals in front of a screen. Doing this actually increases the chances for obesity. Additionally, this study shows that 8 out of 10 children (82.8%) do not eat a proper breakfast, while some children skip breakfast altogether. And, only 1 in 10 children include fruit in their first meal of the day. Unfortunately, these figures continue into adulthood. According to a 2017 publication by Eurostat, 25% of the Spanish population over the age of 15 do not consume fruit and vegetables daily. This finding is significant seeing that the first five years of life are crucial when it comes to developing healthy habits.
Eight out of 10 children (82.8%) do not have a proper breakfast, while some children skip breakfast altogether.
At Gasol Foundation, we always work under the approach that a “healthy life” does not only consists of a balanced diet. It takes a combination of other components as well- participating in regular physical activity, resting and sleeping the necessary hours, and practicing certain behaviors for good mental health. Our metaphoric healthy galaxy conveys this message quite clearly due to the fact that it cannot function if all 4 of the healthy planets (physical activity and sport, healthy eating, rest and emotional well-being) are not interacting and working with one another.
Concern for what exactly a healthy diet entails has been a constant for many years. Maintaining a healthy diet throughout life helps prevent malnutrition and various non-communicable diseases, like childhood obesity. Unfortunately, the increased production of processed foods, rapid urbanization, and changes in lifestyles have led to a complex change in eating habits. The relatively new emergence of more hypercaloric foods, saturated fats, trans-type fats, free sugars, salt and sodium have made matters much worse. Moreover, there are numerous children who do not eat enough fruits and vegetables to begin with.
More emphasis needs to be placed on the dietary and nutritional recommendations of children’s diets. Important factors such as number of servings or recommended feeding times are just a few proposals that need to be taken into consideration. We at the Gasol Foundation want to exemplify recommendations like these as much as possible, as well as convey how behavior and family habits play a key role in children and adolescents nutritional habits. It is also important to note that the exact composition of a healthy, balanced and varied diet depends on the needs and habits of each individual, cultural context, and availability of local foods. This is precisely the reason why we compiled a list of healthy diet recommendations for children and adolescents below:
- My Healthy Plate: The Gasol Foundation’s My Healthy Plate is a simple and effective aid for healthy nutrition. This graphic encourages our families to choose foods that contains healthful nutrients. The My Healthy Plate composition reflects modern scientific knowledge and provides the best way to maintain a healthy body weight. It supports quality meals by displaying the food groups that should be present in all daily meals, along with suggested portion sizes. If My Healthy Plate is utilized and followed correctly, meal planning for children and the rest of the family can be much easier.
- Hydration- water is the best drink!: Staying well hydrated is essential for health. Water should be the first option with every meal. The consumption of sugary beverages such as processed juices or soft drinks should be avoided or limited. It is important that children have direct access to clean drinking water for proper water consumption. This is yet another easy example of a healthy behavior that the entire family can partake in together. Everyone should be drinking water regularly. In fact, individuals should be drinking a minimum of 8 glasses a day. When sports or moderate to vigorous physical activity is involved, water should be consumed approximately every 20 minutes.
- Sharing family meals: Eating with family and engaging in conversation with all screens turned off is beneficial for numerous reasons. Doing so provides an opportunity for family members to come together, strengthen ties, and build better relationships. Family meals also offer a chance for parents to be role models for their children by setting a precedent for healthy eating. Also, when it comes to healthy eating, research indicates that children who eat regular family dinners consume more fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and micronutrients.
- Weekly shopping and healthy cooking with the family: The items purchased at the grocery store or farmers market week after week can boost kids health and give them a positive attitude towards nutritious foods. In the same way, having children involved in the cooking process has its benefits as well. Cooking together and prioritizing health over the convenience of fast foods is a great way for children to buy into the culture of health and wellness. Additionally, cooking together helps strengthen the family commitment to a healthy lifestyle.
Through the Gasol Foundation, Pau and Marc encourage children, young people and their families to learn to enjoy healthy eating. This will help to ensure them optimal health now and into adulthood.