Everything I read has a different definition of “healthy”. How do I know if my children are healthy?
I can understand your frustration. As we learn more and more about our bodies, it becomes increasingly difficult to sort out facts from fallacies. Let me put things in perspective for you.
A healthy child is not just free of disease; he also functions at his best throughout the day. He plays hard, concentrates easily, has good stamina, and a pleasant disposition. He rarely complains of stomachaches, and he sleeps well. In my clinical experience, this is also a child who is eating the right foods. He avoids fats and sugars while eating lots of fiber. The best sources of fiber are legumes (dried beans and peas), grains, fresh fruits and vegetables.
When I try to talk to my young patients about this, they take great delight in telling me about all the people they know who eat junk food and are “doing fine”. That’s when I explain that if you build a wall out of crumbly bricks and use library paste for mortar, it might look like a great wall for a short time. However, when it’s 20 or 30 years old, that wall is going to start crumbling. In the same way, bones and muscles that are built out of junk food aren’t going to last as long as those built out of the best food available.
During the first few years of your child’s life, you are in complete charge of what he eats and drinks. There is no excuse for not guiding him through those formative years with an excellent diet. You’ll be establishing patterns which will last the next 80 years or more. It’s one of the best gifts you’ll ever give your child: good health and good eating habits.
Be gentle as you are making dietary improvements for your family. Some families do well with a drastic and complete change and some require a more gradual approach that leads them to a very occasional indulgence of a favorite food. Find what works for your family as you walk this path to improving your health by improving your foods.