We know that eating a balanced diet is important for everyone, but especially for children. During the formative years, a lot is going on in your little person’s body. Good nutrition is for everyone, and starting the habit of eating right from the beginning can pay off big later on. The eating habits developed in childhood will carry on through the adult years and help stave off many common health problems.
Benefits of a Healthy Diet
Most of the vitamins and minerals our bodies need to function at peak efficiency can be provided by the foods we eat. Experts agree that children’s diets in the U.S. fall far short of the recommended amounts of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Taking a multivitamin is good, but it cannot make up everything lacking in the diet if enough of the right foods are not consumed routinely. Vitamin C, potassium, and foliate are just a few of the nutrients kids are missing out on.
Obesity is at an all-time high, and brings a host of health problems to the table, including diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, and respiratory problems. Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and high in nutrients for healthy growth, and fiber, which makes kids feel full sooner and longer. Eating habits developed in childhood will help to ensure a life-long habit of eating healthy. Satisfying the sweet tooth with fruit does double duty – it satisfies the craving and delivers nutrients at the same time. Strawberries deliver much-needed vitamin C and apples are loaded with antioxidants.
Better Bowel Habits
Bowel health is very important. Constipation is common in children. It makes going to the bathroom uncomfortable at best, and can cause a child to refuse to go at all. It is surprising, but children can actually hold back bowel movements, and will if constipation makes passing a stool painful or difficult. A stool softener or laxative can help, but before turning to a pharmaceutical solution, try adding more fruit to the diet.
Prunes are a common fruit for assisting with constipation, but pears, plums, and raisins can also aid in passing the stool. These fruits that are high in fiber help add more water to the stool and make it easier to pass. Holding back too long can actually cause more problems, so better to always work these foods into your child’s eating routine.
Several studies conducted to gauge the correlation of diet and academic performance, found that students with better nutritional habits did better on tests than their counterparts whose diet was considered poor. “[A 2008] study of 5,200 Canadian fifth graders found that the kids with healthy diets were up to 41 percent less likely to fail literacy tests than the other children. A number of factors influence the academic performance of kids, but nutrition is an important contributor to better school performance.”
Lead by Example
We know that kids learn by example. A do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do mentality doesn’t really cut any ice with kids, and you can benefit from better nutrition as well. If your diet hasn’t been the greatest, now is the perfect time to start working out some bad habits and working in some good ones. Better nutrition is better for all.