Good Eating Habits Formed in Childhood Promote Lifelong Health
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Soy Offers Tasty and Nutritious Foods Kids are Sure to Love
ST. LOUIS — It is never too early to eat healthfully. Though, it certainly can be a challenge for parents to tempt kids into eating well. On busy weekdays, it can be a struggle for any harried mom or dad to keep from throwing in the towel and handing out lunch money for the school vending machine or ordering pizza for dinner. Nevertheless, research suggests it’s worth the battle: Good eating habits formed early in life help children grow up healthy. From infancy through the teen years, soy can help parents conveniently add nutrients important for each growth stage.
Eating habits formed in childhood – both good and bad – track into adulthood. “Once unhealthy habits are formed, changing behavior is much more difficult,” says nutrition expert Joy Blakeslee, RD. “It may even mean the difference between a healthy lifespan and one with chronic diseases. Make them good habits and your kids will thank you later in life.”
Soyfoods are packed with nutrients to boost energy, regulate hunger, help stabilize blood sugar and keep appetites satisfied longer – all of which may contribute to overall healthy growth and development. Mounting evidence from the National Cancer Institute also suggests that girls who consume high amounts of soy early in life are significantly less likely to develop breast cancer as adult women.
Children need to learn how to eat. Parents can play a big role in shaping food habits and attitudes by adopting a healthy eating lifestyle for the family. “The heart of the family is expressed in food,” added Blakeslsee. “By setting a good example at home, with nutritious and flavorful dishes, kids are more likely to make healthy choices on their own.”
Where to start? Add soyfoods to the family meal plan. “Healthy eating doesn’t have to mean boring,” says Blakeslee. “In fact, variety is more apt to result in better nutrition.” Try these two tasty recipes for a protein-packed lunch, dinner or snack sure to beat food boredom. The best part is they are easy to make -- perfect for busy moms and dads. And for families looking to ease grocery budgets, soyfoods are also easy-to-find and affordable.
- Teriyaki Rice Bowl: Raise the bar from peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. Pack the lunch box with this rice bowl featuring marinated tofu, edamame and veggies. It can be easily added to a portable dish for a balanced and flavorful lunchtime meal kids won’t trade away. The nutrients will reenergize your child to get through afternoon classes and after school activities. Not a lot of time to make dinner? The rice bowl also makes an easy, tasty dinner to
please the entire family. Cook it together with the kids for a fun family activity.
- Frozen Soy Yogurt Pops: Snacks don’t have to mean empty calories. When kids come home from school and raid the kitchen, chances are they will reach for these soy pops – a refreshing combination of fruit and soy yogurt. A perfect choice to replenish the body after school and tide kids’ appetite over to dinner, with energy to spare for homework.
Soy slips easily into everyday meals. For example, use soymilk in breakfast smoothies, pancake mix, or cereal. Add edamame to a favorite salad or pasta dish. Or bake and sauté with soybean oil to bring out the natural food flavors. “Get started today on a healthy family eating plan,” encourages Blakeslee. “It’s never too early or late.” More recipes and tips can be found at soyconnection.com.
About the United Soybean Board
The United Soybean Board is a farmer-led organization comprised of 68 farmer-directors. USB oversees the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. For more soy and health information, please visit www.soyconnection.com.
5 Growing Stages: Soy Solutions
Soyfoods boost kids’ diets with high quality protein, while they are often lower in saturated fat than their traditional counterparts, contain zero grams of trans fat and are cholesterol-free.
When mom eats for two, a nutritious diet is essential. Soyfoods offer vitamins and nutrients important for a healthy pregnancy – beneficial for mom and the growing fetus. For example, many soyfoods contain calcium, vital for developing strong bones and teeth. Soyfoods can also assist mom with weight control after the baby comes along.
Most babies are formula fed at some point in the first year. New mom’s take comfort: While breast milk is best, soy formula is a safe and effective alternative to breast milk and cow milk-based formulas and provides appropriate nutrition for normal growth and development.
Soyfoods support the normal growth and development of children. In fact, studies show they can improve growth when substituted for legumes in the diet of malnourished preschoolers. The best part is soyfoods please the pickiest of eaters! Among preschool children, studies show soy enhanced lunches were consumed as readily as those made with traditional ingredients.
A healthy diet in childhood may mean reduced risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, later in life. High quality soy protein can play an important role in a healthy diet. Soy protein directly lowers serum cholesterol levels and improves other lipids in children – especially important with the rise in cardiovascular disease among young and old alike. Plus, most soyfoods are lower in saturated fat and calories than traditional protein sources, particularly significant since 20 percent of U.S. children are overweight.
Appetites come and go throughout childhood. In the teen years, appetites can rev into high gear. And diets that provide ample amounts of high-quality protein, like soy protein, can provide greater satiety. For teens that are active or play on sports teams, soy protein contains all the essential amino acids to repair and build muscles. And soy’s balance of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats helps them to refuel following practice.
Look for the soy variety of these foods in the supermarket:
- Hot dogs
- Protein/energy bars
- Soybeans (canned or dried)
- Soybean oil