Why is it so important for grandparents to be involved in healthy child nutrition?



If you are a mother or father, surely more than once you have heard grandparents or in-laws saying that ‘parents are there to raise children and grandparents to spoil’, with all that this can imply at various levels.

Although in this pandemic we are far from grandparents, as a general rule they are a fundamental piece for the conciliation of parents, and they spend a lot of time with their grandchildren. They pick them up from school, take care of them while their parents leave work, and among other functions, they often give them food or a snack.

In the spirit of pleasing your grandchildren and seeing them happy, grandparents often tend to offer unhealthy food options, with all that this can entail in the long term at the nutritional level, especially if it is not something specific, but is repeated almost daily.

As warns Melisa Gómez, dietitian-nutritionist, specialist in pediatric clinical nutrition and lactation consultant, the scientific evidence “is hard” and confirms that those minors who spend more time with their grandparents tend to register higher figures of overweight and obesity.

In his opinion, it is not, nor will it be the same, an ice cream or a cake on a Saturday a month with grandparents than every afternoon, and it is that the frequency with which they share meals plays a crucial role and should be directly related to the quality of the same.

“If at home, for example, you make an effort to design a suitable menu, to promote the consumption of fruit and vegetables, and limit the consumption of sugary drinks, a fruit juice a week will surely not put you at risk, but a juice daily will be enough for them to prefer to drink juices to eat whole fruit and reject fruits at home. This will make it difficult for parents to maintain good habits, and it will make them feel that the effort to create them has been in vain.“, maintains.

Gómez, who has been dedicated to nutritional dietary treatment for 10 years, both for healthy children and children with overweight or obesity, allergies and intolerances or diabetes, has just published ‘Milk with cookies’ (Vergara), together with chef Juan Llorca , a manual in which it deals with this problem, and with which they intend to join efforts to redirect that bond between grandparents-grandchildren with food, where they also provide a series of recipes that can be helpful.

Thus, the also member of the College of Dietitians and Nutritionists of the Valencian Community (CoDiNuCoVa), of Dietetics Without Sponsors and of the Latin American Society of Nutrition, emphasizes at this point that “talking things out” can solve many of the problemsSince grandparents spend many hours with their grandchildren and not only offer them meals, but also teach them habits.

“There are studies that highlight the important role of grandparents, such as teachers or caregivers, in child nutrition and also from breastfeeding, both for the good and support for parents, when it comes to overcoming any bump and for For example, saving lactations. But also as for the worse. For example, when saying that the child with the breast is left hungry, that you give him a bottle of formula because his milk is water (which is not true). Maternal can help prevent many problems such as obesity, and from here you can see the weight that grandparents can have, for example, and as the child grows later this becomes stronger, “maintains the dietician-nutritionist.


As he insists, grandparents can play a positive role and promote good habits, such as being an obstacle to them. Here Gómez emphasizes that taking care of a good diet from birth is vital because chronic non-communicable diseases can be prevented, and that today they are responsible for a large part of deaths worldwide.

Remember at this point the WHO strategy that states that if we only managed to get children to grow up eating 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, 1.7 billion lives a year would be avoided. “A balanced diet is related to a lower incidence of cancer, diabetes, or coronary problems that can be prevented. If a sandwich or pastry is given at the snack and vegetables or fruit are not prioritized, it is not understood that this is the key to our future health, “he adds.

On the other hand, the creator of Nutrikids draws attention to emotional eating and why grandparents are usually the great promoters: “Grandparents often try to use food to modulate an emotional response. They know that if you give them this food, His grandchildren will be super happy and they will see him super happy. Nor should we resort to food as a way out to feel better or to be calm or something like that, we must take care of it and many times we are not aware of the weight of words “.

As for the rugged subject of sweets as a reward, the expert in child nutrition recalls that these are products that do not provide anything nutritionally and the problem with their use is in the frequency. ANDn this point includes not only gummies, but also pastries, to the petit suisse type yogurts, to say some examples, since they are products “similar to sweets and that are often disguised under the label of healthy foods”.

The WHO points out that, for a healthy diet, you should not exceed 5% of the consumption of free sugars per day, when many times with the intake of only one of these products it is exceeded. “This offer of daily products that do not contribute anything predisposes that child to a disadvantage and to develop diseases in the future that no one wants him to suffer in the future, growing up with this adulterated palate that he will want to replicate,” emphasizes the CoDiNuCoVa member.

Yes, we can spoil children, and other alternatives to sweets, for example, believes Melisa Gómez that they could be the stickers, or just spending more time with them and preparing a recipe together, for example; leaving sweets or that type of food for something specific.

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