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Common Myths of Children's Nutrition

07 MAR 2016

Common Myths of Children's Nutrition

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Myth: Milk causes constipation.
Fact: Milk itself does not cause constipation in most children.

Most often, children drink more milk than is recommended. When children between 1-3 years of age drink more than 16-24 ounces (2-3 cups) of milk per day, they will fill up on milk and won’t have enough room to eat a variety of food. When this happens, there is not enough fibre consumed to move the waste through. So it is the lack of fibre-rich foods and not eating enough food that causes constipation, not the milk itself.

In very rare cases where a cow’s milk protein allergy has been diagnosed by a physician, drinking milk may cause constipation. But this is a medical condition, not common lack of bowel movement.

Myth: Every child should take a vitamin-mineral supplement.
Fact: Most children do not need a vitamin-mineral supplement.
If a child eats a wide variety of foods from all four food groups in Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide, over time they will get the nutrients they need. Teaching children to get their nutrition from a pill tells them that food is not important, and that they can rely on something in a bottle to keep them healthy. Many children (and many adults!) will have days where they do not eat a great variety of food. Over time, in most cases, children will eat enough foods to provide them with the nutrition they need. Remember, foods eaten in one single day or at one single meal do not determine a child's health. Rather, foods eaten over several days add together to provide the nutrients the child needs.

Myth: It is my job as a parent to get my child to eat.
Fact: It is your job as a parent to offer your child a variety of healthy foods to choose from.
It is your child's job to decide how much and whether to eat the foods you offer. Children need to let their appetite guide their eating. They will eat when they are hungry, and they will stop when they are full. Your duty as a parent is to offer new foods as well as foods that are common and enjoyed by your child. Also, provide structure around mealtime by having meals at regular times, and eating together as a family. Have healthy snacks available between meals, such as fruit or cereal. A child can be trusted to listen to their appetite. Once a child is given responsibility for their eating, their nutrition will work itself out over time.

Myth: Sugar makes kids hyper.
Fact: There is no research that shows hyperactivity is caused by eating too much sugar.
Often, children eat foods that are high in sugar, such as candy, pop, or cake, at celebrations that make them excited and act hyper. Birthday parties, family gatherings, sleep-overs, and play time with friends are some common situations where kids eat foods that are high in sugar and may appear cranky or hyper. However, it is the situation, not the food that affects a child's behaviour. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is not caused by kids eating too much sugar.

Source: Leeds, Grenville& Lanark District Health Unit. Common Myths of Children’s Nutrition [Online]. Available:http://www.healthunit.org/nutrition/lifecycle/toddler/childrens_nutrition_myths.html

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