If you want to encourage your toddler or young child to develop healthy eating habits as they grow up, read this new research. In a recently published research paper, a team of scientists reveals that babies who eat a Nordic high-protein diet from the age of four to six months are more likely to develop healthy eating habits.
According to a 2020 report from CDC, more than 36% of children and teens in the U.S. regularly eat junk food and 13.8% of their daily calorie intake comes from unhealthy fast food items. Another study, conducted as part of the WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI), which examined the diets of 132,789 children from 23 European countries, also yielded some shocking results. The study suggested that less than half of the 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 problems 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. In addition, it can also lead to mental problems such as low self-esteem and depression. However, it is impossible to keep an eye on what your child eats outside the home, so developing healthy eating habits from the start can play an important role in keeping your child healthy as he or she grows up.
How can a Scandinavian diet plan help?
The Nordic low-protein diet includes berries (especially blueberries, cranberries, raspberries), vegetables (such as turnip, carrot, cabbage, etc.), and carrots. The latest study highlights that feeding your babies soft and edible portions of these fruits and vegetables can double their chances of preferring healthy foods when they grow up. The results of the study are based on an OTIS study in which researchers observed a total of 250 babies from the age of four to five months until they reached 18 months of age.
During the trial, the babies were divided into two groups; one group was fed a low-protein, homemade Scandinavian diet. While babies in the other group were fed conventional baby food as per the recommendation of the Swedish Food Agency. The Nordic diet contained 17-29% less protein than the normal diet, but it was no less than the recommended protein supply that babies need. However, calorie intake was the same for both groups.
A total of 205 babies completed the trial. Interestingly, babies who consumed Scandinavian foods started eating about 45% more fruits and vegetables by the time they got 12 to 18 months older. On the other hand, when babies fed conventional foods reached the same age, they reduced their consumption of vegetables by 36%.
dr. Ulrica Johansson, explaining her findings, said the lead author and a pediatric medicine physician at the University of Umeå, Sweden:
“A Nordic reduced-protein diet introduced to infants naive to this eating model increased intake of fruits, berries, vegetables and carrots, establishing a preferred eating pattern that persisted over a 12-month period.” She added: “A Scandinavian diet with a low protein content is safe, feasible and can contribute to sustainable and healthy eating during infancy and early childhood,” she added.
Many other benefits of a low-protein Scandinavian diet
The Scandinavian diet is a healthy and sustainable food choice for your babies that mainly contains seasonal fruits and vegetables. The different types of berries consumed as part of the diet are rich in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties, the roots and vegetables such as rutabaga, cabbage, beets, carrot, etc. have a high fiber content. In addition, the food and taste diversity in the Scandinavian diet encourages infants to develop different dietary preferences.
An exciting and positive effect of the Scandinavian diet is that it stimulates your child’s eating habits to prefer healthy plant foods over unhealthy meats and junk foods. This not only protects him or her from various health risks in the future, but is also good for the planet. When asked about the programming effect of the Nordic diet on babies, Dr. Johansson: ZME Science†
“We hope they will taste a wider variety of eating healthy and sustainable foods (fruits, berries, carrots, vegetables). Because of the programming effects in childhood when food preferences are developed. But we also need to work with the family as a whole. health benefits; reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases. And reduce the climate burden by eating a more planetary health diet.” She added: “This diet may have later health effects (early programming) on body composition and other metabolic processes and microbiota. It remains to be studied and monitored.”
dr. Johansson and her colleagues will now monitor the babies until the age of seven. So that they could find the long-term health effects of early nutrition from the low-protein Nordic diet.
The study will be presented at the 54th Annual Meeting of the European Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN).