Why Should Children Try Lots Of Different Foods?
01/03/2013 Why should we get children to try lots of different foods?
Our bodies have evolved over millions of years to eat and use a fantastic variety of foods to keep us alive and well - a much wider range of foods than most other species. Each type of food provides a different range of nutrients for our bodies and our big buzzing brains, and we need to ensure that our bodies continue to receive the full spectrum of materials they have evolved to need, in order to be well, stave off disease, and live the best life we can.
On first glance we now eat a phenomenal range of foods - think of the exotic produce section of most supermarkets - and yet in other ways the number of staple foods we eat has been reduced by stealth in the last few decades. There is an illusion of huge choice in the average supermarket, but our recent reliance on processed convenience foods has meant that the vast majority of foods we eat now contain one of three cheap bulk staples - wheat, soy and corn - and the actual range of ingredients we are eating is much smaller than the illusion would suggest.
In addition the number of strains or varieties of each foodstuff has dwindled in the last decades. Our grandparents would have eaten a much wider range of tomatoes, strawberries and potatoes than we do, for example. The fruits and vegetables we eat most of the time now have been selected for their ability to grow uniformly, stand up to pesticides and diseases, be harvested in one batch, handle well, travel and store for long periods and look good in the shop. This doesn't mean they are the best tasting, most interesting or most healthy variety.
Because of this we need to make a concerted effort to bring as many foods as possible into our children's lives. If they are comfortable eating a wide range of foods from every food group, not only will this serve their health as they grow up, but will also give them a taste for exciting and interesting food, which means they will be less likely to settle for a bland, one dimensional processed diet when they are old enough to make their own food choices.
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