Eating a healthful diet has benefits throughout life. Starting a healthy lifestyle during childhood can have long-term advantages, according to the American Psychological Association. Following healthy habits during the formative years of childhood makes it more likely that your youngster will hold onto these habits throughout life.
Healthy Eating Defined
Healthful eating involves consuming a variety of whole and nutritious foods. By incorporating foods from the different food groups into every meal, kids should have a well-rounded and healthy diet. The "MyPlate" initiative by First Lady Michelle Obama seeks to simplify healthy eating by presenting a dinner plate divided into four different pieces with fruits and vegetables comprising half of the plate and grains and proteins comprising the other half, according to the KidsHealth website. A small circle to the right of the plate represents dairy in the diet. Foods that contain excess fats and sugars should become occasional foods, only added to the diet once in a while.
Strong Healthy Growth
Children have important daily dietary needs to support continued growth and physical development. Foods that contain vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates and protein will provide the nutrients necessary for growth and development. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children eat at least five fruits and vegetables each day.
Children who eat a healthy diet also receive direct brain development benefits, according to research associate Marc Goodman-Bryan with The Urban Child Institute. For example, if a child does not receive adequate intake of iodine and iron, she may experience both cognitive delays and motor development delays. A child whose diet is deficient in the essential fatty acid DHA might experience delays in learning and development.
Avoiding Health Problems
Eating healthy foods can also reduce the health problems faced by children. Children served healthy foods regularly may experience fewer cavities. Many chronic health problems, such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer, have roots that trace back to an unhealthy childhood diet. When children start life with whole and healthy foods, they may avoid many heath issues that can affect them both during childhood and into adulthood.
- American Psychological Association: Changing Diet and Exercise for Kids
- KidsHealth: Food Guide Pyramid Becomes a Plate
- HealthyChildren.org: Healthy Eating at Home Matters!
- The Urban Child Institute: Nutrition and Early Brain Development
- The President's Challenge: Benefits of Being Fit & Eating Well