Starting from pregnancy, the mother has the possibility to avert and decrease the widespread problem of allergies and food intolerances. How? Through a healthy and correct diet during the entire length of pregnancy and breastfeeding. The more limited, poor and selective is the diet of the pregnant woman, the more the child will have the chance, the certainty of developing food intolerances and allergies. The mother in fact, can immunize her own child during the first stage of foetal development.
How to make the child acquire flavours, getting closer to the most different food?
In the first 3 months, the acquisition is mostly mechanical, by pure and simple imitation. Through family imitation the child trusts and accesses all novelties proposed, as he/she cannot make his/her own experience but through the adult.
The child won’t face food putting it in his/her mouth by instinct. The child eats if the adults around him/her eat it.
Do not forget the difficulty of the weaning. If it was for the newborn’s choice, one out of two flavours tasted would make refuse the food offered. The child’s answer to a new flavour is defensive: I don’t know you, I won’t eat you. We should help him/her trust and accept it.
The adult has the duty not to deny the baby the opportunity of a healthy, varied and correct diet.
Daycare and preschool are a great place to start these experiences; educators eat with the children the exact same things.
They assure children by talking, discussing and proposing them a support on difficulties, exploration activities and knowledge of the new food. Sharing is essential. Sharing with a group of peers and with the adult in a peaceful environment and able to follow and respect even personal preferences, which little by little start to be shaped in time. But remember, in this phase there’s no plan B. Even this is a chance to grow.
Educating means exploring.
We shall not stick to prejudices of the first taste; we should give them time to shape their preferences. Besides, we all change our preferences during life. We evolve and change; nobody has never ever eaten again something they loved when they were a child? And the other way around?… What we don’t like today we could like tomorrow. In addition, children like adults don’t always have the same amount/quality of appetite; some days I have more hunger, and others I have less or even none. Don’t be frighten, children will never die of hunger!
On the contrary, they will become aware and able to recognize a wide range of flavours. In the future, they will be able to choose.
The adult is one who has to point out the right and healthy path: remember that if the child could choose, he/she would only go for simple flavours, nutrient-poor as, for example, plain pasta, which is poor and even harmful from a nutritional point of view.
The choice of the food must preview a globalizing idea of food. Flavours and processing from all over the world, favouring seasonality, variety and if possible, a short chain, so to guarantee intact organoleptic properties of food.
Unfortunately, however our fantastic Mediterranean tradition, the English model has gained the upper hand, with the fake idea of helping families to feed fast and satisfying the child. Think of the excessive consume and success of fast food even in family, the ready-made food to be heated in the microwave …
Are we sure we are going on the right direction? Or are we just simplifying life? And which are the pros? We get worried if our child doesn’t eat, but are we sure to do the same thing for their health?
Family in this project is essential, otherwise the project will fail.
Doremi Srl, with the collaboration of Laila Vignati – Dietitian Medici in Famiglia Milano.