If you want to encourage your toddler or young child to develop healthy eating habits as they grow up, you may want to read this and then this new study. In a recently published research paper, a team of scientists revealed that babies who eat a low-protein Nordic diet from the age of four to six months are more likely to develop healthy eating habits.
According to a 2020 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 36% of children and teens in the United States eat fast food on a regular basis, and 13.8% of their daily calories come from unhealthy fast foods. Another study conducted as part of the World Health Organization’s European Childhood Obesity Monitoring Initiative (COSI) that surveyed 132,789 children from 23 European countries revealed some shocking results. The study suggested that less than half of children consume fruit and only 22.5% of them eat fresh vegetables for breakfast.
If you think that unhealthy eating habits are only related to common health issues like obesity or constipation, you only know half the truth. Research has found that fast food increases the risk of heart disease, asthma, allergies, and diabetes in children. Moreover, it can also lead to mental problems such as low self-esteem and depression. However, it is impossible to monitor what your child eats outside the home, so developing healthy eating habits right from the start can play an important role in keeping your child healthy as he grows.
How can a Scandinavian diet plan help?
The Scandinavian low-protein diet includes berries (especially blueberries, cranberries, and cranberries), vegetables (such as turnips, carrots, cabbage, etc.), and roots. The latest study highlights that feeding your children juicy, edible portions of these fruits and vegetables can double their chances of choosing healthy food as they grow. The study findings are based on the OTIS trial in which researchers observed a total of 250 children aged four to five months until they were eighteen months older.
During the experiment, the children were divided into two groups; One group was fed a homemade low-protein diet in the North. The children in the other group were given traditional baby food as recommended by the Swedish Food Agency. The Scandinavian diet contained 17-29% less protein than the normal diet but was no less than the protein required for infants. However, calorie intake was the same for both groups.
A total of 205 infants completed the experiment. Interestingly, children who ate Nordic food started eating about 45% more fruits and vegetables by the time they were 12 to 18 months old. On the flip side, when kids were fed the traditional diet at the same age, they reduced their vegetable consumption by 36%.
Dr. Ulrica Johansson, lead author and physician in pediatrics at Umeå University in Sweden, explains her findings:
“A Scandinavian low-protein diet offered to infants naïve to this model of eating increases intake of fruits, berries, vegetables, and roots, and establishes a preferred eating pattern that continues over 12 months.” “The Scandinavian high-protein diet is safe, feasible and may contribute to healthy, sustainable eating during infancy and early childhood,” she added.
Many other benefits of a Scandinavian low protein diet
The Scandinavian diet is a healthy and sustainable food option for your children that mostly includes seasonal fruits and vegetables. Various types of berries eaten as part of the diet are rich in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties, and roots and vegetables such as swede, cabbage, beets, carrots, etc. are high in fiber. Additionally, the variety of food and flavors in the Scandinavian diet encourages children to develop a variety of food preferences.
An interesting and positive effect of the Nordic diet is that it stimulates your child’s eating habits to prefer healthy foods of plant origin over unhealthy meat-based foods and junk foods. This not only saves him from various health risks in the future but is also beneficial for the planet. Dr. Johansson said when asked about the effect of programming for the Scandinavian diet on children ZME Science:
“Hopefully they taste a variety of healthy, sustainable foods (fruits, berries, roots, vegetables). Because of the effects of childhood programming when developing food preferences. But we also need to work with the family as a whole. The health benefits will reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases.” and reduce the climate burden through a healthier diet on the planet.” She added: “This diet could have subsequent health effects (early programming) on body composition, other metabolic processes and microbes. It remains to be studied and followed up.”
Dr. Johansson and colleagues will now follow the children up to the age of seven. So they could find the long-term health effects of early nutrition from the Scandinavian low-protein diet.
The study was presented at the 54th annual meeting of the European Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN).