Cholesterol and Children
Many people assume that high cholesterol is a problem that only affects middle-aged adults. Actually, many people don’t even worry about their cholesterol when they’re younger, and eat all the high-fat convenience foods they want, thinking that due to their early age, diet isn’t important.
Nothing could be quite further from the truth. More children today suffer from high cholesterol due to this big misconception. In actual fact, the number of children who are taking cholesterol drugs is rising! Some studies have suggested that a childhood of bad eating choices can contribute to higher cholesterol later on in life.
Besides this fact, many of the eating habits that are learned in childhood affect eating in adulthood. Children who are used to eating high-fat food and convenience food will be more likely to make the same easy choices when they become adults. Switching to healthy food in adulthood will be harder for children who have made less than healthy food choices all their lives. For these reasons, controlling your food intake and lifestyle choices even early on in life can contribute to a life-long healthy heart and good cholesterol levels.
If you have children, you can help to ensure that they make the right food choices which can help them with their cholesterol levels now and later on in life. Actually, if you and other members of your family do have higher cholesterol, you may need to introduce your children to cholesterol-healthy eating, because your children might be at a risk of developing high cholesterol themselves.
Luckily however, it is not so hard to teach your children how to make intelligent food and lifestyle choices which are heart-healthy:
• Educate your children about healthy eating and the risks of cholesterol. If you have high cholesterol yourself, you may want to speak to your children about it. Informed children will be better able to make smart food choices which will then help keep their cholesterol levels healthy later on in life.
• Let your children make their own healthy food choices. Give your children something to say about the fruit, vegetables and other food that they enjoy. Go through heart-healthy cookbooks with your children, letting them help you decide which recipes to try.
• Be careful of the food and cholesterol attitudes that you convey to your children. Children do pick up emotional cues from their parents. If you treat a cholesterol-friendly diet as a type of punishment, your children will likely see it in the same light. If your children see you turn to high-fat junk food when you are depressed or stressed, they might be likely to do the same thing. Many parents are fussy eaters and transmit this to their children.
• Try not to reward children with food. If your child does well at sports or gets a good grade at school, don’t take them to a restaurant or take-out to celebrate. Instead, give them horseback riding lessons or let them choose a toy or an activity instead. Many parents might be tempted to keep sweet foods such as cupcakes and cakes for "special occasions" and "special treats" but this inadvertently makes children associate sugary foods with good times and vegetables with punishment or with everyday life.
• Take your children food shopping with you, especially when you are shopping for fresh products. Let your children choose which vegetables, fruits and other healthy foods they would like to eat. Also, encourage your children to decide which fruits and vegetables look as though they might be tasty. Treat your shopping trip as an adventure and your children might be more likely to eat their fruits and vegetables without any fuss.
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