Nutrition plays a key role in achieving optimal health. It's important to help your child create healthy habits, as these behaviors tend to stay with them through adulthood. By establishing healthy eating patterns and getting regular physical activity, your child will be better protected, both now and in the future, against preventable chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
As children age, they experience growth spurts, increases in appetite and greater nutritional needs. Development in physical, cognitive, and psychosocial aspects affects how they feel, think, make choices and interact with others. As children approach adolescence, they have more independence in their food choices and may experience new influences, such as exposure to peer pressure, social media, and marketing. Be aware that these influences may positively or negatively affect your child’s health beliefs.
Children need parental guidance toward healthy food choices and adequate exercise. Without guidance, kids can slip into poor habits like over-consuming:
Teens and adolescents may be heavily influenced by today’s “diet culture,” which sets unrealistic food/fitness expectations and often leads to unhealthy dietary patterns. It is always best to contact your healthcare provider if you have concerns about your child having disordered eating patterns (i.e., intentionally restricting food intake, skipping meals, binge-eating) or unusual weight changes.
As parents or caregivers, it is important to help your child learn how to properly fuel their body in a way that helps them feel their best. You may find your child to be more successful if the entire family is involved. Remember: small changes eventually lead to big results!
General Healthy Eating Tips:
Up to year 5, it is normal for children to be naturally very active throughout the day. From ages 6 to 17, guidelines become a little more specific. Children in this age range need at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity daily to get the most benefits. Make physical activity fun by finding things you and your family can do together!