Healthy eating can impact a child’s energy, mood, mind and overall health. There are several easy steps parents can take to encourage and instill good eating habits.
Offer a healthy, balanced diet with meals and snacks that are rich in nutrients and minerals. Half of your child’s plate should contain fruits and vegetables, one quarter should contain whole grains and the other quarter should be foods high in protein. By making plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grain snacks and healthy beverages easily accessible, parents can help their child avoid foods high in sugar, salt, high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and saturated/ trans fats, and encourage a healthy diet both during meals and snack times.
Cook more meals at home, have regular meal times and get your kids involved. By cooking at home, parents have control over food choices, portion size and when meals or snacks are served. When kids are involved in shopping for and cooking meals, parents can teach them the nutritional value of each food as well as have important family time.
Control portion size. Exact portion sizes differ depending on age, gender, weight and height, but a rough estimate of portion size is a one-hand fist size for fruits, vegetables, pastas and beans and a palm-size for proteins.
Increase physical activity and limit television and computer time. Exercise is an important component of a healthy lifestyle. By reducing screen time, kids can avoid unnecessary empty calories from snacking and be more inclined to increase physical activity by going outside.
Support a healthy lifestyle. By introducing your child at an early age to a healthy lifestyle and a well-balanced diet rich in minerals and nutrients, parents can help their child prevent obesity, diabetes and iron deficient anemia. The family home environment needs to support a healthy lifestyle for everyone.
Guest Writer-Jason Hove, MD
Family Medicine UCLA Health Redondo Beach, 514 N. Prospect, Ste. 103, phone: 310-937-8555, uclahealth.org/redondobeach