TOTALNUTRITION.COM

      NUTRITION for the BODY, MIND and SOUL

TOTALNUTRITION.COM

        Nutrition for the BODY, MIND and SOUL

 

 

"DEVELOPING HEALTHY, WELL-BALANCED LIVES"

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NUTRITION FOR CHILDREN & TEENS


As your child grows and develops, it is important to provide him or her with proper nutrition to optimize their health.  No single food can provide all the essential nutrients for proper nutrition and good health, so it is important to make sure your child consumes  a wide variety of foods from all the major foods groups.  Keep in mind that foods high in fat, sugar and salt should be limited in order to achieve a healthy diet, as they have been determined to contribute to health problems later on in life. 

Most people are under the mistaken notion that children have some type of super or magical metabolism which make them immune from the detrimental effects of eating unhealthy foods.  This is simply NOT the case.  Physical damage to the body from eating unhealthy foods can begin to destroy the body from a very early age, so it is vital to begin a healthy diet from as early an age as possible.  By developing healthy eating habits in your child from a very early age, he or she will be much more likely to continue those healthy habits as they grow older, and into adulthood; but encouraging and motivating your child to eat healthier and employing proper nutrition, without setting the example yourself, will make it all the more difficult.  You will ultimately be the very best role model for your children's eating habits, and if it is not important for you to do the same for yourself, don't expect them to do so either.  

Fruits and vegetables are the cornerstone of a healthy diet, as they are loaded with healthy nutrients (vitamins, minerals and fiber), so it is extremely important to develop a routine of offering your child fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.  If they refuse to eat them, or are reluctant to do so, simply and gently encourage them to try them.  Once again, if they see YOU eating them on a regular basis, they will be more likely to do so as well.  You may have to be persistent in your attempts to foster healthy eating habits, but do not be too forceful or harsh in your demands, as they will generally rebel - it ultimately has to be their choice - otherwise it will probably only be done when you are present.  

Try to only use whole grain products in the home, such as whole grain breads, pasta and cereals, as they are much healthier than their refined versions, such as white bread, white rice and refined cereals.  Avoid bringing high-sugar foods and drinks into the home, as they provide excessive empty calories with very little nutritional value. Consuming more calories than burned can lead to undesirable and unhealthy weight gain.  Also, sugary food increases the risk of tooth decay, as well as other health conditions.  Fat is an essential part of any healthy diet (it provides energy and aids in the absorption, transportation and storage of vitamins in the body); but excessive fat - especially saturated and trans fat - can lead to unhealthy weight gain and health problems such as cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke).  Restricting salt intake in childhood reduces the risk of high blood pressure in teenage years and adulthood.  Use less salt in your food preparation and choose salt-free or low-salt versions of foods like sauces, luncheon meat, chips and other snack foods.  

Once again, the single most important thing you can do to positively influence your child's eating habits is to be that positive role model and set the proper example yourself.  Actions speak louder than words!   Start making some positive changes as soon as possible, even if it's one subtle change a week for example (you don't want to make too many changes all at once - in most cases this is too obvious and can even be shocking).  Gradually make several changes over time, and in one or two months, you can be well on your way to your child developing healthy eating habits. So what are you waiting for?  Your child's health depends on it!!