Diet – more than just getting your greens in
Getting kids who are picky eaters to eat their fruits and veggies can be challenging, sometimes even impossible. Unfortunately, as all parents know, it is necessary because a healthy and well-balanced diet is crucial for their children’s wellbeing. Diet affects different bodily functions – from brain development, concentration, and energy levels to body composition and organ function, among others. However, besides eating carrots and having good night vision, most parents likely haven’t given much thought to the importance of a balanced diet for the healthy development of their children’s eyes. Did you know that picky eating affects eye health?
The link between diet and eye health
Myopia is probably the most well-known eye problem in Singapore, so you probably wonder what the link between myopia and diet is. This is a slightly tricky question to answer. Current research has produced results on both sides of the fence. Some papers show that there may be a link between diet and myopia, while others have results that disprove of this hypothesis. More research is needed to definitively establish if there is indeed a strong link between diet and myopia.
While the verdict is still out on the exact nature of the relationship between picky eating and myopia, bad eating habits have been more strongly linked to various other eye conditions, some of which may have serious long-term consequences for health and well-being. For example, compelling links between diet and cataract formation, and diet and age-related macular degeneration have been discovered.
In extreme cases, a poor diet can even cause blindness. In the UK, an otherwise healthy teenage boy described as a ‘fussy eater’ developed vision symptoms due to his poor diet. The vision symptoms progressed to vision loss after 2 years, advanced to nutritional optic neuropathy (inflammation of the nerve that carries visual information from the eye to the brain). It eventually led to irreversible blindness. This was because his diet consisted of very nutrition-poor foods such as fries, potato chips and white bread. This left him with vitamin deficiencies.
Tips for parents on sneaking healthy foods into your picky eaters’ diets
Cases like that of the British boy are extremely rare, especially in developed countries. For those who have fussy eaters in the family, do not worry, picky eating in children is common. Most times, it is no cause for worry, and children usually grow out of it as they grow older.
Here are three tips for you to ensure that your child is getting all the nutrients for good eye health:
Food preparation done by the kids
Cooking can be a fun family activity. Seeing how a dish is prepared and playing a part in its creation may help kids to get over any aversion to a dish. Bring them along to the supermarket and let them pick out any fresh food they find interesting and create the dish with them.
Sneak vegetables into foods your picky eater already likes!
Kids globally seem to hold a grudge against broccoli, but it actually is more friend than a foe – it is full of carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which act as protective pigments in the back of our eyes.
If your little one loves mac and cheese, chop broccoli into tiny florets and stir them in. For baking whizzes, it is easy to slip them into baked goods like muffins! There are many ways of disguising veggies into their favourite dishes, get creative!
Change the texture of the food
Some kids don’t have any issue with the taste of a vegetable but instead may find the texture off-putting.
Carrots are rich in Vitamin A, which plays an essential role in vision by helping the retina to absorb light. You can incorporate carrots into your child’s diet by changing up the texture. Juicing or grating it into ribbons will change up the texture.