Proper nutrition is one of the most important influences on your youngster's well-being. A varied, balanced diet-containing vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, and even some fat-promotes growth, energy and overall health.
Female: Terri and Mark Carson like to take an evening stroll with their two children: five- year old Kalen and two-and-a-half year old Kenzi. It’s a time for the family to exercise and talk about what happened at pre-school and at work. Once they arrive back home it’s time for a healthy snack. Terri understands that exercise and three-a-day of calcium-rich milk, lowfat cheese and yogurt are the easiest and most wholesome ways for her family to meet their calcium needs and build strong bones. Terri Carson: My husband and I really reinforce the importance of milk all the time. They see us drink it and so we give it to them to drink. We let them know it’s going to make them big and strong. Female: Terri serves the kids milk in their favorite colorful plastic cups. Not only are they shatter resistant, but they make great toys, so snack time's not only healthy, but fun! While the Carson family enjoys eating lowfat dairy foods, some families – especially African-American, Hispanic and Asian families – may avoid them for fear of lactose intolerance. Lactose is the name for the natural sugar in milk. Some people do not produce enough of the enzyme “lactase” needed to break down and digest this sugar. In some cases, these individuals may experience the symptoms of lactose intolerance – including abdominal cramps, bloating, gas and diarrhea – after eating or drinking foods that contain lactose. Jeanette Newton: For those people that have symptoms, it’s important to know that symptoms occur depending on how much milk you drink at any given time. Female: By following a few tips for tolerance, most people can still enjoy lowfat milk, cheese and yogurt. These tips include: start with small portions and gradually work up; drink milk with meals or a snack, instead of on an empty stomach; try aged cheeses like cheddar and Swiss; they are naturally low in lactose; enjoy yogurt – cultured dairy foods like yogurt contain friendly bacteria that help digest lactose; try lactose-reduced or lactose-free milk. During recent decades, children’s intake of soft drinks has risen dramatically, whereas their intake of milk has declined. Jeanette Newton: Most kids have replaced milk with sugared beverages. That is an alarming trend. Female: Unfortunately, soft drinks not only contribute to obesity, but studies have shown that intake of soft drinks at the expense of lowfat milk may compromise children’s calcium intake and increase their risk of bone fractures during youth. Studies show that eating more lowfat dairy foods may actually help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases disproportionately effecting minority groups. Wilma Wooten: It’s important to help reduce hypertension. And it also has been shown to, obviously, help reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis later on in life, and also help to reduce the risk of certain cancers such as colon cancer. Female: Karen Kim stopped drinking milk voluntarily when she started college. Karen Kim: I thought I might be lactose intolerant given the fact that many Asians are. Female: But when she and her husband wanted to start a family, she was concerned that she needed a healthier diet. Karen Kim: My concern was that if I didn’t drink milk that I wouldn’t have enough calcium supplements for, I guess, my own bones and for my children. Female: Karen now has lowfat milk and other lowfat dairy products in small portions. This way she doesn’t put herself at risk of an upset stomach. And she’s teaching eleven-year old Kaitlyn that three servings of lowfat milk, cheese or yogurt should always be a part of her daily diet. Karen Kim: Up until know she has been fine drinking milk. She drinks milk at least once, if not twice a day Female: Kaitlyn says most of her classmates don’t bother with the soda machine at lunchtime. This is welcome news to her mom and a sign that the healthy nutrition choices at home are not forgotten at school. Kaitlyn: I think they just know their parents probably have told them that milk is good for you. You should be drinking a lot of milk. Female: Good advice. Here’s some more: avoid self-diagnosis. Talk to your pediatrician and get tested to be certain. Then follow the “tips for tolerance” to enjoy lowfat dairy foods and reap the health benefits.