Top 7 Benefits of Healthy Eating in Early Childhood
Healthful eating involves the consumption of a variety of whole and nutritious foods. By giving your child foods from the different food categories in every meal, it will ensure that your child has an all rounded healthy diet. Food that is fatty and sugary should be avoided or be very minimal.
These habits help your child’s overall well being and it makes you as a parent to be happy. Developing a healthy lifestyle for your child might be difficult some times. It starts with changing your child’s mindset.
The impact of healthy eating is far-reaching regardless of your child’s sex, physical ability and age. Healthy eating can help your child maintain a healthy weight, have a sharp memory, avoid certain diseases that are related to eating among other benefits. Eating well will help your child have a healthy growth and development into his adulthood. If your child already has any condition, a healthy diet can help him manage it and even regain good health with time.
It is crucial for you to remember that your child is not born with a natural craving for either healthy or unhealthy foods. It is a learned condition either towards healthy or unhealthy food choices. If your child has developed a craving for unhealthy food, there is hope. It is possible for your child to learn to love healthy food.
The sooner you introduce your child to healthy food the easier it will be for him to develop a healthy eating habit. A healthy eating habit developed at a young age is likely to continue into his adulthood. At whatever age, children develop a liking for foods they enjoy the most. To encourage healthy habits, introduce your child to healthy and nutritious foods.
There are basically nine different types of nutrients that your child should get on a daily basis. These nutrients are:
• Proteins – it plays a role in the building of body cells and the breakdown of food into energy. Foods that are rich in proteins include beans, meat, eggs, nuts, fish, and dairy products.
• Carbohydrates – this is the source of energy for the body. They play a vital role in the repair of body tissues and bodybuilding. The foods that provide carbohydrates include potatoes, cereals, bread, and rice
• Fats – this is the fastest source of energy for children. Fats also help in the proper utilization of other nutrients in the body more especially fat-soluble nutrients. Foods with high fats include meat, fish, whole milk, nuts and cooking oil.
• Calcium – Calcium is the primary building block of bones and teeth. Apart from that, it helps in blood clotting. It can be found in food like milk, egg York, spinach, broccoli among other sources.
• Iron – iron is crucial for the development of healthy blood. Food rich in iron includes liver, nuts, whole grains, beans, red meat and fortified morning cereals.
• Fiber – fiber is essential in the regulation of the bowel movement. In addition to that, it helps in reducing the chances of heart disease development. Fiber is present in whole grains, nuts, lentils, beans and chickpeas.
• Vitamin A – this is an essential nutrient in eyesight, skin health and fight against infections. Foods that are rich in vitamin A include cabbage, carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, squash, egg York and fish.
• Vitamin C – besides fighting the common cold, vitamin C also helps in strengthening the walls of blood vessels, holding the body cells together and building strong bones and teeth. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, tomatoes, papaya, spinach, strawberries, and cauliflower, broccoli and watermelons.
• Vitamin B – plays a significant role in the development of healthy cells. Lack of vitamin B in your child’s food can result in the anemic condition.
Characteristics of a Healthy Child
It is every parent’s desire to see their children healthy and smart. A healthy child can be identified from a very small age. There are various characteristics that a healthy child will exhibit. They include:
b) Has a good appetite
c) Has an ideal body weight
e) Clear and shiny eyes
f) Active and agile
g) Tongue and lips look fresh
h) Hair and skin looks dry and clean
i) Odorless respiratory
Simply put, a healthy child is one that is socially, mentally, physically and psychologically sound. Socially a child should be able to adjust easily to the surrounding and bonds easily with other children. Psychologically the child should have sensitive feelings and a soul that is healthy. While physically the child should have a healthy body and normal growth.
Effects of Nutrition on Child Development
In India, malnutrition in children is due to inappropriate infant and young children caring and feeding. This is most common for children under 3 years of age. The prevalence of malnutrition of children in India is among the highest the world over. This has dire consequences for growth and development, mortality, morbidity and productivity.
The problem of malnutrition has the following impact on the child’s growth and development:
- Retarded physical growth
- Increased susceptibility to diseases
- Affects the development of both cognitive and motor abilities
- Poor educational attainments
- Poor productivity even in adulthood
- Poor productivity ultimately leads to poverty
Malnutrition is responsible for the greatest burden of childhood infections. These problems can be overcome by mothers breastfeeding their babies exclusively for 6 months and winning them at 1 year. In addition to that, children should receive proper supplementary foods when they are wined.
Must-Have Accessories to Make Eating Time Fun
The following are some of the accessories that you should have to make your child’s eating time fun. These accessories are meant to distract your child and make him eat. They include:
- Eating chairs
Benefits of Healthful Eating
Healthy eating for children begins with breakfast. A child who eats a good breakfast is likely to have a good memory, scores higher marks and has good moods and energy levels. A good breakfast should be high in proteins. Some of the best foods for your child’s breakfast include:
- Fortified cereals
The following are the benefits of healthy eating to your child:
1. Weight Management
Eating healthy goes a long way in helping your child avoid excess weight and maintain proper weight. Besides eating right, it should be combined with regular physical activity. When your child eats a balanced and calorie managed diet, it will help him maintain an ideal weight.
When your child starts with a good breakfast, it prevents him from becoming hungry soon. When your child feels hungry before the eating time, he is likely to eat unhealthy food before lunchtime. Apart from that, when you do not take breakfast, it will lead to an increased blood sugar level. The excess sugar in the blood is converted into fats. The fats are stored in the adipose tissues. This is the major contributor to weight gain.
Having a proper weight is beneficial because it helps to avoid the development of chronic diseases.
An overweight child has high chances of getting heart disease, poor bone density, non-insulin dependent diabetes and some forms of cancer.
Foods that are low in calories such as fruits and vegetables are ideal for your child as compared to processed foods. You can find out your child’s calorie intake per day for that you can select proper foods for him.
One of the best foods that help in weight management is fiber. Give your child more of fiber containing foods. Fiber also helps to make your child fuller for long hence avoid eating in between meals. Reduce the intake of sugary foods such as soda.
2. Combats Chances of Disease Development
Healthy eating habits play a crucial role in preventing certain health conditions. If you give your child the proper foods, it will help keep the cholesterol level low. This, in turn, will ensure that your blood pressure is within the right range.
This helps your blood healthy and flowing easily through the veins. This decreases chances of contracting stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, arthritis and some forms of cancer.
If you have a family history of some of these lifestyle diseases, it is important that you watch the foods your child eats.
You should not give your child foods that contain saturated and trans fats. Also, ensure that you take your child for medical examinations at least once a year. The doctor will examine your child’s weight, heartbeat, sugar levels as well as blood and urine tests. Such medical examinations can help you know your child’s health condition better.
3. Good Energy Levels
When your child consumes a lot of unhealthy food, he is likely to be lethargic. On the other hand, if your child eats proper food, the food will supply much-needed energy. A healthy diet for your child should contain whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and other low-fat foods.
Besides eating right, vigorous physical exercise plays a role in boosting your child’s endurance. Also, it increases muscle strength hence giving more energy. Exercise helps in the distribution of nutrients and oxygen to all parts of the body. It also plays a role in the health of the heart. Proper exercise promotes better sleeping in children and increases energy levels.
If your child does not get sufficient sleep, he is likely to be sluggish and becomes tired more easily.
Besides that, he will get irritated more easily and moody. Most importantly, poor sleep might lead to the development of some diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
To help your child sleep well, make sure that he has regular sleeping time, does not take caffeinated drinks at night, does not nap during the day and sleeps in a conducive environment.
4. Better Moods
There is a direct relationship between your child’s moods and the food he eats. Treating the body right leads to a better-balanced mind. Studies have found out that your child is happy, endorphin hormone which is responsible for the feel-good mood is produced. Eating right and exercising leads to better moods and general physique.
In research, it was found out that foods rich in glycemic contribute to depression and general body fatigue. Glycemic is found in foods such as carbohydrates, cakes, sodas, white bread, and biscuits. On the other hand, foods that contain low levels of glycemic such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains contribute to better moods.
Healthful food contributes significantly to better moods not only in children but also in adults. Besides the food and exercise, socialization contributes to good moods. When a child socializes with other children and takes part in activities, it helps to improve his mood.
Do not let your child be alone. Let him mingle with other children, engage in physical activity and spend time with other family members. This will help to balance the level of serotonin in his body and it will help to keep his mood better.
5. Improved Memory
Eating a healthy diet can help to prevent the development of dementia. It also helps to improve cognitive abilities. Studies have indicated that there are several nutrients and foods that can help prevent the development of dementia. Some of these foods include:
• Vitamins C, D and E
• Omega-3 fatty acids
In addition to improved memory, it can also increase the quality of life. A child who eats healthy reduces the chances of dying prematurely as compared to children who eat unhealthy foods. If you want your child to live longer, ensure that you feed him the right food.
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6. Improved Immunity
The gut of your child has millions of microbes which play a crucial role in the prevention of infections. Apart from that, the microbes help in digestion and metabolism of the food. Some kinds of bacteria that are found in the gut help in the synthesis of vitamins B and K.
If you feed your child foods that are low in fiber and high in sugar, it will affect the bacterial composition of the gut. Whenever there is an imbalance in the gut bacteria, the immunity of your child is at risk.
You should give your baby food such as whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables. Also, include foods rich in probiotics. These foods help to build the bacterial composition in the gut hence improved immunity. You should also include fermented foods such as miso, curd, yogurt, sauerkraut and others which are rich in probiotics.
Fiber is also another good source of probiotics. It is readily available in fruits, legumes, vegetables, and grains. An improved immunity ensures that your child can fight diseases better.
7. Strong Teeth and Bones
Strong bones are essential for good growth and development in children. Healthy bones help to prevent osteoporosis later in your child’s life. To build strong bones, your child needs food that is rich in calcium and magnesium.
Foods that are rich in calcium include:
• Canned fish
Magnesium is present in foods like nuts, green leafy vegetables, whole grains and seeds.
Once your child has developed a bad eating habit, it might be hard to break it. But it can be unlearned. You can help your child to learn to eat healthy foods. A healthy eating habit will help your child to avoid some of the common lifestyle diseases. In addition to that, your child will have an improved physical appearance, better mental development, good energy levels and good immunity.
There are some simple ways through which you can help your child eat healthily. The following are some tips to help your child eat healthily:
• Instead of soft drinks, give him fresh fruit juice
• Avoid processed foods and use wholesome foods
• Feed him more proteins as compared to carbohydrates. Some of the good protein foods are nuts, tofu, eggs and fish
• Watch the quantities of food you give your child
• Give your child foods rich in fiber
• Don’t give your child sugary foods
• Consult a doctor for health check-up and advice on a proper diet for your child