Kids and Healthy Eating

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We all know that eating our veggies is important to our health, but getting kids to eat them can be a battle. But the battle is worth it–and a new study provides further support of the importance of starting kids early on health foods such as fruit and vegetables. A healthy diet promotes success in life: better concentration and alertness, better physical health that translates into good mental and emotional health, according to the study authors… and something many of us parents talk about in our own houses. Helping kids learn to choose healthy foods gives them the best foundation for healthy eating as adults.

Study author Paula Peters, Associate Professor of Human Nutrition at Kansas State University, said, “Give the child a wide variety of healthy food options and let her choose which and how much to eat. A child may start by eating nothing or eating too much, but she has an innate ability to know when she’s hungry and when she’s full.” Children can also learn to make healthy food choices by involving them in grocery shopping and age-appropriate food prep and cooking. Other tips include focusing on serving nutrient dense foods, rather than calorie dense foods and to avoid using food as a reward for good behavior.

Childhood obesity is particularly concerning because it can lead to a host of other illnesses down the road including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and sleep apnea. Nearly 1 in 4 children ages 2 to 5 is overweight or obese. Rather than putting children on a diet, or criticizing a child’s weight, parents should focus on offering healthier food options and increasing physical activity. Some of our patients say that their entire family becomes more healthy after one member uses weight loss surgery or medical treatments for obesity. This makes sense because any weight loss treatment must be used with lifestyle changes, so the whole family can be positively affected by one person switching the way they grocery shop, cook, and eat.