Dr Lina Begdache : Junk-Free Kids — Health Impacts of Poor Diets | Raising Parents #54

In this episode, host Dina Sargeant is joined by Lina Begdache who is a Certified Nutrition Specialist Scholar and an associate professor at Binghamton University in New York

In the podcast, Dr. Lina delves into critical issues like skipping meals, mindless eating, and constant snacking—all of which can definitely take a toll on a child’s physical health, mental state, and even behavior. Dr. Lina gives some valuable research-backed insights on how these dietary patterns can lead to weight problems and other health complications in young people.

Meet Dr. Lina Begdache

Dr. Lina Begdache is an associate professor in the Health and Wellness Studies department at Binghamton University in New York.  She  holds a Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology with a focus on Neuroscience from Binghamton University. She also has a master’s degree in Nutrition Sciences from the University at Buffalo.

In addition to her academic qualifications, Dr. Lina is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, a Certified Nutrition Specialist Scholar, a Certified Dietitian Nutritionist, and a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 

Dr. Lina is also an active speaker and writer, sharing her knowledge on topics related to nutrition, brain health, and neurobehaviors. She has a particular focus on examining gender differences and age-related variations in brain morphology.

About the episode

In this episode, Dr. Lina explains how the food kids eat can really affect their growing bodies and brains in big ways. When little ones don’t get the nutrients they need, it can cause all sorts of issues down the line—from struggling with weight to changes in moods and behaviors.

She defines an unhealthy diet as one that doesn’t promote physical or mental health, and can lead to issues like obesity, mood changes, and developmental delays. Some common unhealthy dietary habits in children that she addresses include skipping meals, excessive snacking, and mindless eating in front of screens. Skipping breakfast regularly, for example, can cause less focus and energy since breakfast fuels the brain and body.

Moreover, Dr. Lina explain about missing key vitamins and minerals during big growing phases does real damage, especially to developing brains and bones. For instance, not eating enough omega-3 foods like fish can mess with how brain cells talk to each other, and not getting enough vitamin D can lead to bowed legs.

Therefore, families and friends also have a big influence on how kids think about food. Dr. Lina stresses that parents need to practice what they preach and not give in to picky appetites. She says signs that parents should look out for that may indicate an unhealthy diet include changes in weight, behavioral or mood issues, and replacing home-cooked meals with snacks. 

Here are some of the key tips Dr. Lina provides in the podcast:

  • Be a role model: Change your own diet and health habits for children to follow.
  • Cook a healthy meal: Cook healthy meals for the whole family, don’t accommodate different meals for kids.
  • Allow treats: Allow treats in moderation as rewards, but don’t keep unhealthy snacks in bulk at home.
  • Manage stress with activities: To boost well-being, manage stress through activities like exercise, music, and positive thinking. Prioritize sleep, stress avoidance, and lifestyle factors for long-term brain and cognitive health.
  • Educate yourself: Last but not least, educate yourself on nutrition to understand children’s needs and how to fuel their growth.

In conclusion

In this episode, Dr. Lina explains how crucial the food kids eat is for their healthy growth and future through scientific facts and also personal stories. When little ones miss out on important nutrition during key phases, it can cause effects that stay with them, which parenting alone may not make up for.

However, she shares down-to-earth suggestions any family can start using like leading by example, teaching what bodies need, and gently introducing changes instead of bans.

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