Children and Proper Nutrition: A Never-Ending Struggle

Published On: 9 August 2023By

It’s safe to assume that all parents want their children to grow up big strong and healthy. We all know that regular exercise, a good amount of sleep and proper nutrition are the core pillars for the development of a growing body. But as soon as one of these areas is lacking, such as not getting enough exercise, missing out on sleep, or not eating the right foods, both your body and mind will not function as well as it normally should.

If your child is a picky eater or has a restricted diet (sometimes by choice, but sometimes due to allergies), then they may not be getting all the necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals needed to thrive. This is why it’s important to ensure your child is aware of what healthy eating habits should consist of, and this will in turn allow you to address challenges which may be faced in promoting these habits.

The Impact of Processed Foods

With the constant fast pace of today’s lifestyles, it’s very easy for parents to find they are short on time and opt for a quick fast food. Most of these convenient options often lack the essential ingredients to provide the nutrients needed. Even worse is many of these foods are loaded with preservatives as well as unhealthy additives, and excessive amounts of sugar and salt. Regular consumption of these fast-food options has been known to lead to a variety of health issues, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems. Many schools now try to educate children on the dangers of a diet consisting of junk food, and it’s important that the same message is re-enforced at home.

Picky Eaters: A Common Challenge

It’s not uncommon for children to be picky eaters, as even many adults can attest to being one when they were young. Quite often this issue stems from a fear of trying new foods or a preference for familiar less nutritious options, rather than just eating their balance of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and proteins. Encouraging children to try new foods requires a mixture of patience, creativity, and a gentle approach. Tactics such as disguising the food as they know it or sometimes calling food items by a different name is all it takes. A good trick is to let them see other people whom they admire enjoying such foods. Otherwise, options such as involving children in meal preparation can gradually expand their palate and promote healthier eating habits.

Media Influence on Food Choices

In this digital day it’s now so easy for your child to be exposed to media in multiple formats where unhealthy untruthful information about eating habits, or promoting junk food can cause a bad impression upon their developing minds. With information now shown on video streaming platforms, social media, as well as the old-fashioned media formats of television radio. This advertising is everywhere. Simply trying to ignore it just won’t work. The best way to counteract all these influences is to provide education and encourage open communication about the importance of a balanced diet and the long-term benefits of making healthy food choices.

Creating a Supportive Environment

It’s important that all parents, extended family members, carers and teachers all share the same message with your child.  This will allow for constant positive re-enforcement of what a healthy diet consists of, and together create a supportive environment which promotes proper nutrition. Setting a consistent mealtime routine provides a great structure not only for your child but also your own dietary needs. It can also fit into a larger routine structure providing a timeframe for exercise, learning and sleep, re-enforcing all the important aspects of a healthy lifestyle that your child needs.

Top Tips to achieve nutrition-loving kids

  • Have regular family meals together
  • Eat healthy yourself and model good choices
  • Don’t force your child to eat something
  • Offer a variety of healthy food for them to chose from
  • Involve them in the process of what gets served up

Educating and Empowering Children

Being able to teach children about the importance of nutrition from an early age is an important step to maintaining and understanding their long-term health and own well-being. Thankfully there are several educational initiatives taught in schools and communities. The include learning the skills to read food labels, understanding portion sizing, what foods are classified as healthy and what is unhealthy. They will be shown how to take control of their own nutrition in a safe environment and taught how to make the right choices when it comes to meal planning, grocery shopping and dietary requirements. This can help them develop a level of empowerment, as well as establishing a sense of excitement and creativity whilst making healthy food choices.

Collaboration and Support Systems

Luckily by combining the knowledge children are learning about nutrition in schools, they can continue their journey of healthy eating. But they will need constant guidance and support. Collaboration from parents, schools, healthcare professionals, and the wider community. By working together, these groups can share knowledge, resources, and best practices. Schools can provide nutrition education and prevent sales of unhealthy foods through their cafeterias. Healthcare professionals can offer guidance and support to parents. Community initiatives, such as farmers’ markets and cooking classes, can promote access to fresh and nutritious foods, as well as how to best use them.

Addressing the never-ending struggle of proper nutrition that children require can sometimes be a daunting and tiresome experience. However, through a bit of persistence and utilising the support networks available to you, you will be able to get your child to understand the benefits of making healthier food choices, which hopefully will result in them leading a long and healthy life.

If your child’s diet is poor and has low immunity or other health issues, GcMAFplus can help.