Teaching Children Good Nutrition


Obesity affects about 17.5 percent of American children and adolescents – that’s more than 12 million kids, according the Centers for Disease Control. While lack of physical activity plays a role, one of the largest contributors to the obesity epidemic is poor diet, with kids not getting the proper nutrients to develop and maintain a healthy weight. Teaching children about good nutrition is one way to reduce their risk for obesity and other health conditions, and it will help lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating.

Teach them to Read the Nutrition Label

The nutrition label on packaged foods is the easiest way to determine if an item is healthy or not. Teaching kids to understand these labels will help them make more informed decisions about what they eat. Make sure they notice the serving size and recognize that often something will have more than one serving in it, increasing the amount of calories, fat and nutrients. Teach them which nutrients are good, and which they should get less of. According to the FDA, potassium, fiber, iron, calcium and vitamins A and C are all nutrients to get more of, while trans and saturated fats, sodium, cholesterol and sugars are something kids should avoid.

Lead by Example and Keep Healthy Foods on Hand

When children see you making healthier food choices, they will be more likely to do the same. Modeling healthy behaviors when it comes to selecting food will help your kids make better nutrition choices for themselves, and it will also help foster a healthy attitude toward food. Additionally, keeping a supply of healthy foods, like fruit, vegetables, whole wheat bread, nuts and other items, will encourage your children to choose wisely.

Family Meal Time

The simple act of enjoying a meal together as a family can have lasting impacts on your child’s health. It also provides another opportunity to teach them about good nutrition. Serve a variety of healthy foods that will allow them to experience a broad nutritional spectrum, and discuss with them what they’re eating and why it’s good for them. Eating at regular times and allowing them to rely on their own internal signals about what and how much to eat is also beneficial and will help them better understand their body’s needs.

Get Kids Involved in Food Preparation

Allowing your children to help with grocery shopping and cooking is another way to teach them the importance of good nutrition. As you shop for food, tell your kids about the nutritional qualities of the items you’ve chosen, and point out foods that aren’t good for them. Empower them by letting them make their own selections, but offer guidance if necessary. When it’s time to prepare meals, show your children healthier methods of cooking, like baking chicken instead of frying it. Let them help as much as possible; not only will it provide useful life skills, it will also deepen their interest in good nutrition.

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