I believe that in order to raise healthy kids, we must teach them how to eat healthy at a young age.  So when I tell friends that my toddler eats ampalaya, squash, broccoli, mangoes, bananas, and apples more than he eats sweets, they think I’m being too much of a health freak.  After all, most kids nowadays rarely eat vegetables and fruits and prefer candies to carrot sticks for snacks. 

Yesterday, I saw a colleague give softdrinks to his 1-year old.  And everyone in the office (except me) was saying how cute the little girl looked while sipping her Coke – and she finished the whole 8 oz. bottle!  I didn’t say anything, of course.  I wouldn’t want to intrude on how other parents bring up their children.  In the first place, I don’t want anyone to give me unsolicited advice on how I should raise my kids.

But, I just thought that young children, especially those whose teeth are just developing, shouldn’t be allowed to drink soft drinks (nothing healthy in it whatsoever) or be given too much sweets.  If they are given sweets at a young age, they will acquire a taste for sweet food – and this is not particularly healthy.  This could even be a cause for diabetes.

When my son was a baby, I used to give him kalamansi juice everyday – half a fruit squeezed into 3 ounces of water – without any sugar!  My mom would tell me to put even just a pinch, but my dad argued that he wouldn’t know the difference anyway, so why expose him too early to sweets?  Now, as a toddler he loves to drink kalamansi juice (which he calls kalamfi, by the way) and even if you put a Coke bottle in front of him, he wouldn’t touch it.  One day, my mom’s attendant told me that while she was drinking Coke, Enzo told her “Ma drink si Enzo juice lang, kay indi nami ang Coke” (Enzo will drink juice only because Coke is not good).  I believe that what I teach my son now, even if he’s only 2 and a half, will stay in his young mind.  And because actions speak louder than words, my husband and I don’t drink Coke, too.  After all, we have to set a good example for the little ones.  Ang sabi nga nila, “Sa mata ng bata, ang mali nagiging tama pag ginagawa ng matanda.” 

Being a parent is not easy.  Our schools teach us how to be good doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, or professionals, but they don’t teach us how to be good parents.  No school curriculum includes Parenting 101.  But I just hope (and pray!) that I can always be a good example to my kids, not just in what I say, but most especially in what I do.

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