Maintaining health and nutrition while living or traveling abroad can be a real challenge. Even in Czechia it may be difficult to find good quality food and ingredients. So, we spoke to Dr Margit Slimakova about establishing healthy life habits in a family and what’s important to stay healthy.
Dr Margit Slimakova is a specialist in health prevention and nutrition. She’s involved in education and awareness for the improvement of food options in school canteens and cafeterias in the Czech Republic. When asked about the basis of a healthy diet, she advises eating animal and plant-based products that are not processed. “Our focus as consumers should be to eat foods which are free of chemicals and preservatives,” she says. “The best way to ensure this is to buy food which is local and seasonal, and ideally free- range and organic. This way we can ensure that the products we consume are much less likely to be full of harmful agrochemicals and other substances.”
What can schools change when it comes to providing children with healthy food?
The truth is that school canteens have become highly commercialized. If you give your child pocket money, chances are their lunch consists of KitKats, chips and Coca-Cola, simply because it’s readily available and cheap. The best solution for meals is to always prepare food at home (packed lunches). Let children choose what they want to eat- ask them about their preferences. Also, let them get involved in the food making process to ensure that they will enjoy what they eat.
What can parents change in children’s diet?
Sugar consumption – Kids are not born with the knowledge that ‘sweets are better’ until we teach them that by giving sweets as a reward. Sugar is not an essential nutrient as our body can produce its own sugar. And when we cannot avoid sugar completely, they are best consumed in their natural form – sugar is present in fruits, grains, milk, etc.
Highly processed sweets sold in supermarkets, should be completely kept out of a regular meal-plan. Processed sweets and food contain NNS (non- nutritive sweeteners) that can damage healthy microorganisms in our gut.
For further information on nutrition, check out the following articles and links:
- 4 Easy Tips for a Healthy Diet by Dr Margit Slimakova
- Superfood for Superchildren: a book about children’s nutrition, recommended by Dr Margit Slimakova. The book is written by experts who evaluate children nutrition and give advice and recommendations for their diets by age.
(Keep in mind that some of the recipes provided in the book are targeted at children with specific dietary needs- e.g. propensity to obesity, and therefore are only suitable as a general guidance- not for everyday consumption).
- A guide to shopping for your kitchen by Dr Margit Slimakova: www.zdravakuchyn.cz
- 3 Common misconceptions about food, by Margit Slimakova