Nutrition refers to everything that your child eats and drinks. Your child’s body uses nutrients from food to function properly and stay healthy. Nutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. In the right amounts, these nutrients give your child energy to grow, learn and be active. Your child’s body stores what isn’t needed right away for energy as body fat.
Poor nutrition can cause health problems, overweight and obesity. Some of the health problems associated with poor nutrition can be serious and even life threatening, especially as your child grows into an adolescent and moves into adulthood. By helping your child learn healthy eating habits, you can help prevent these health problems.
Avoiding weight problems now has multiple benefits for your child. First, it’s so much easier to maintain a healthy weight than it is to lose weight. And children who maintain a healthy weight during childhood are more likely to stay at a healthy weight as adults.
Yes! Choosing healthy foods and being physically active may not come naturally to everyone. But, like just about anything, these healthy choices can be learned and become a habit. As a parent or caregiver, you are a role model and have the ability to influence your child’s environment. Even small changes in your family’s eating and exercise habits can have a big impact on your child’s health.
Start by making sure you have healthy, appealing food options available for your child, and engage your child in the process. At the store, let your child choose fruits and vegetables that he or she enjoys eating. Encourage your child to try new things. Point out colorful options to appeal to sight, crunchy or smooth options to appeal to texture, and be sure to include a good variety so your child can try different things.
See below for some basic guidelines. Be sure to check with your family doctor to find out what is right for your child’s specific needs.
Sometimes it may be difficult to get children to try new foods. Don’t be discouraged. Giving your child healthy options consistently over time will improve the odds that he or she will develop healthy eating habits.
This content was developed with general underwriting support from The Coca-Cola Company.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Helping Your Overweight Child. Accessed January 14, 2011
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tips for Parents—Ideas to Help Children Maintain a Healthy Weight. Accessed January 14, 2011
National Diabetes Education Program. Tips for Teens with Diabetes: Make Healthy Food Choices. Accessed January 14, 2011
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. We Can! Eat Right. Accessed January 14, 2011
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff