Learning to eat healthy and nutritious foods from an early age is essential for a healthy body throughout life. Kids should learn about nutrition as soon as possible and in a positive, reinforcing environment. It's not enough for parents to tell their kids not to eat candy and junk food, they themselves need to avoid eating junk food and need to make healthy food accessible to their children. Learning what foods are beneficial to the body and learning to enjoy those foods means children will be less likely to be overweight or obese as they get older. The Internet can be an excellent tool to use to teach kids about nutrition, as it provides interactive games and lessons.
Kids need adequate nutrition to grow into healthy and strong adults. While malnourishment is not so much of a problem in the US any longer, getting too many calories from foods is. To reduce the risk of obesity, children need to learn how to choose foods that are full of vitamins and minerals but not overly high in calories. For the best health, they should learn to pick foods containing healthy fats and protein and are low in sugars and unhealthy fats. Unhealthy fats, such as trans fat and saturated fat, can lead to heart disease and other health problems while foods high in sugar can lead to diseases such as diabetes. Junk foods such as candy bars and soda are often eaten instead of healthy foods such as carrots and apples, eliminating the vitamins and minerals those foods provide.
Growing children need specific minerals and nutrients for development. Calcium and vitamin D are essential for developing strong, healthy bones, for example. They need iron for healthy red blood cells and minerals such as zinc for a fully functioning and strong immune system. Vitamin C is also essential for the immune system and for helping the body heal itself.
Good nutrition is also needed for the mental development of children. Kids who eat a healthy breakfast, for example, get a jump on the day and are more alert and ready to learn in the classroom. A balanced diet full of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins, will help children focus in school and on homework. A healthy diet also allows them to be physically active, meaning they are more likely to exercise and play, rather than sitting and playing video games or watching television all day.
Nutrition is a way of life. Children will not learn to eat healthy foods by reading about them or being lectured. Instead, they learn by doing and by imitating what those around them do. Games and activities make a lesson about nutrition far more enjoyable too. Parents or teachers can let kids play nutrition games online or can create games about nutrition for the kids to play. When children are engaged in a lesson, they are more likely to remember it.
To further cement the lessons learned in class or by playing games, kids should have nutritious options set before them at home. Ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables should be easily accessible to kids in the refrigerator. Instead of soda, parents can offer children water or low-fat milk. Parents can quiz kids at home about the vitamins and minerals in their favorite vegetables. Over breakfast, kids can read the nutrition labels on cereal boxes to learn just what they are eating.
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