Healthy Diets Start in the Womb
This is a very interesting article written by Kristin Wartman from The New York Times. She explores several reasons why it's important for parents to feed their children healthy food right from the start....even while in the womb. Children quickly learn and develop different taste preferences and emotional attachments to the food that they are given during the first few years of their life. This phenomenon is referred to as "imprinting."
"Researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, a non-profit research organization in Philadelphia, have found that babies born to mothers who eat a diverse and varied diet while pregnant and breast-feeding are more open to a wide range of flavors. They've also found that babies who follow that diet after weaning carry those preferences into childhood and adulthood. Researchers believe that the taste preferences that develop at crucial periods in infancy have lasting effects for life."
"What's really interesting about children is, the preferences they form during the first years of life actually predict what they'll eat later," said Julie Mennella, a biopsychologist and researcher at the Monell Center. "Dietary patterns track from early to later childhood but once they are formed, once they get older, it's really difficult to change — witness how hard it is to change the adult."
Although it is harder to switch to a health-supporting diet later in life as mentioned, it is possible and takes just a few weeks/months to adjust to the new textures, aromas, and flavors. (See the link below.)
Additionally, breast fed infants have many advantages over those that are bottle fed. Because formula flavors never change, formula fed infants do not receive the benefits of the varied flavors that mother's milk contains. Infants that are breast fed are introduced to a wide range of tastes from the foods that the mother consumes.
Gary Beauchamp, the director of the Monell Center explains, "Infants exposed to a variety of flavors in infancy are more willing to accept a variety of flavors, including flavors that are associated with various vegetables and so forth and that might lead to a more healthy eating style later on."
"This may have profound implications for the future health of Americans," Kristin said. "With some 70 percent of the United States population now overweight or obese and chronic diseases sky-rocketing, many parents who are eating a diet high in processed, refined foods are feeding their babies as they feed themselves, and could be setting their children up for a lifetime of preferences for a narrow range of flavors."
Our children's future health is greatly impacted by what we feed them when they are young. We desire the best for your children and encourage you to read the additional articles below.