Arguably, these days many children eat fast foods. Many children and families today have busy schedules. These make it hard to sit down to homemade meals every day. Many kids’ diets involve a lot of convenience and takeaway foods. But these foods can be unhealthy. Do you know that how your child eats today can have a huge impact on their health throughout adolescence and adulthood?
Diet and nutrition are key factors in the health and growth of a child. Children require lots of nutrients to help their bodies develop all the necessary functions and tissues they need, and the quality (or lack thereof) of these nutrients can have a big impact on health.
It is important to remember that your kids are not born with a craving for “French fries” and “pizza”. This conditioning happens over time as kids are exposed to more un-healthy food choices. By far the best predictor of a child’s eating behaviour is the eating patterns of the parents. And family meals are a comforting ritual for both parents and kids. Children like the predictability of family meals and parents get a chance to catch up with their kids.
A recent study found that young children’s food tastes are significantly related to foods that their mothers liked and disliked. Letting your child see you order a fresh salad rather than a burger and fries at the drive-through may encourage her/ him to do the same.
By giving your child a healthy balanced diet, you are ensuring that they are getting all the essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that children need for healthy growth and development.
Nutrition for kids is based on the same principles as nutrition for adults. Essentially, a healthy diet includes lots of fruits. Nearly all types of fruits are great for adding nutrients in a healthy way. Apples are one of the best fruits for human health. The nutrients apples provide help your kids stay strong and healthy. Encourage your child to eat a variety of fresh, canned, frozen or dried fruits rather than fruit juice. If your child drinks juice, make sure it’s 100 percent juice without added sugars, and limit his or her servings, experts advise.
Like fruits, vegetables are a great source of essential nutrients that the child needs for development. However, for some, it is a bit tougher to get kids to eat vegetables. Findings have shown that if parents continue to introduce (and re-introduce) vegetables in their child’s favourite meal, changing presentation, it can go a long way.
It is also best to cut back on unhealthy foods. When you cook at home, you control the menu, so it is easier for everyone to eat healthy. If you stock the kitchen exclusively with healthy treats, children will eat them. Use meal and snack times as teachable moments, this will help children make wise food choices.
By Gabriel Ifinnwa