Instilling good eating habits in your children at an early age will keep them healthier throughout their lives. The proper diet and knowledge of nutrition ensure that kids continue to develop at a healthy rate and have more energy for their growing bodies. Obesity in children is a growing problem, so the earlier a child understands the importance of nutrition, the better. The importance of nutrition is something that can be learned by parents and children alike.
The natural vitamins and minerals that nutritious food provides not only gives a child the endurance and energy that they need, but benefits their intellectual and emotional development.
Making sure that your child is familiar with the right foods and drinks to eat should start early. The Food Pyramid is a great way to introduce this. Just as children become familiar with the alphabet, how to tie their shoes and counting, it is important for them to know the basic food groups. The Food Pyramid provides the proper guidelines for what a child’s daily in take of each food group should be. Parents can visit MyPyramid.gov to obtain information about nutritional guidelines. The site includes a printable Food Pyramid for children ages six to 12 and tips on what foods are best. Visiting the site with the child will give them a sense of ownership about the choices that they have. It is a good idea to keep the poster in the kitchen or on the refrigerator where families can be reminded of their nutritional goals.
Much of a child’s diet should be coming from five food groups. This includes grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy and protein. A typical meal that includes all of the food groups required might be a turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato on whole grain bread with slices of apple and a glass of milk. Combinations like these will keep your child fueled with the right type of energy from foods that are going to work with their growing bodies and give them the vitamins and nutrients that they need.
Parents have an advantage when it comes to introducing certain foods to their children. This provides a chance to delay the introduction of fatty foods and sweets into the diet. Early on, try letting the child develop a healthy relationship with good fats and naturally sweet foods. In place of chocolate, pastries, potato chips and soda let your child try a bunch of grapes, a box of raisins or an ice cold glass of water. The sugary snacks and fatty foods will only provide a temporary fill that will be followed by a crash, or loss of energy.
A great way to let your child feel good about healthy nutrition is to allow them to help in the preparation of meals and snacks. Children love to help in the kitchen, and chances are if they are given the responsibility of cooking they are going to want to try their own products. There are many kid-friendly recipe books that have step-by-step directions for nutritious and delicious meals.