Have you ever wondered exactly why nutritionists cringe when they see one year olds eat chocolates, cheese curls, macaroni cheese, potato chips and chocolate mousse?
It’s because these foods are addictive. Their high-carb-high-fat content triggers the dopamine reward system in our brains to shout for more. And, after a while, they dominate our preferences. They act like heroin or cocaine.
Now, bear in mind that default settings are currently developing in your toddler’s brain as a result of his experiences. Because of the way in which young brains are wired, your child is now developing a basic frame of reference for everything – from music to food to emotional reactions – that will determine how he will be experiencing and filtering his world from hereon in.
If adult brains are rewired to become addicted to fast foods within weeks, just imagine for a second how regular exposure to junk food may impact on the basic architecture of your toddler’s developing brain.
With junk food in the picture, it’s going to be difficult to cultivate an appreciation for the taste of tomatoes, the smell of apples and the texture of lettuce in your toddler. It’s like trying to get him to focus his attention on the sound of the wind, the complexity of wild flowers and the smell of the earth after rain while he is sitting inside a car with the doors and windows closed and watching cartoons on full blast on a portable DVD player. There is no contest. And our children are losing out.