Why Childhood Nutrition is Important

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Getting your child to eat healthy can seem like an impossible task. Kids can be very picky at times and for the most part, vegetables and other healthy foods are not high on their list of preferences. The good news is that it is possible to get your child to eat healthy nutritious food and you can even get them to like it.

Proper Nutrition for Children is extremely important for their development. The habits they learn while they are young may carry through their entire life. Which means they could live a much healthier life than they might otherwise.

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The Importance of Proper Nutrition

Proper nutrition is very important for any person but this is especially true when it comes to our children. This is due to the fact that the food your child consumes today will have a direct impact on their growth and their health throughout their adolescent and adult years. This can either be a negative or a positive impact.

We need to do our part, as parents, to ensure the best health of our children. If we do not help our child by steering them towards healthier eating habits they will surely have negative effects on their health that you surface later in life. Providing our child with well-balanced nutritional meals will help to prevent a variety of negative health issues.

Consequences of Overweight Children

There are many dangers associated with children developing poor eating habits. Some of these dangers include actual physical illnesses. Some of these illnesses can have a very negative impact on a child’s life in the future. In fact, some of these illnesses can limit the things that they will be able to do. Some of these effects will stop them from being able to live a normal happy life, and Some can actually be life threatening and even lead to an early death.

Although being over-weight or obese are serious issues, they are not the only results that can come of it. The following are some examples of the different types of illnesses that can be developed as a result of poor nutrition

Childhood Obesity: You might find it shocking that roughly twenty-five percent of children in the United States that are between the ages of two and eighteen years old meet the criteria of being overweight.

Childhood obesity is a serious problem in the United States, putting children and adolescents at risk for poor health.

Here are some statistics from the CDC

For children and adolescents aged 2-19 years in 2017-2018: The prevalence of obesity was 19.3% and affected about 14.4 million children and adolescents.
Obesity prevalence was 13.4% among 2- to 5-year-olds, 20.3% among 6- to 11-year-olds, and 21.2% among 12- to 19-year-olds.

Eating less is not the solution to loosing weight. EATING SMART IS !

The increased rate of obesity means that obesity-related chronic diseases have become common among children and teenagers. Being overweight increases a child’s risk for a number of diseases and conditions. Here are a few.

Asthma has been showing up in a large number of overweight children.

Type 2 diabetes, AKA: Adult onset diabetes, has become increasingly prevalent among overweight children and adolescents. A study by the (CDC) estimated that one in three American children born in 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime. It’s becoming an epidemic and we need to do our part to stop it.

The incidence of gallstones is significantly higher in those who are obese.

Early indicators of atherosclerosis begin early as childhood and adolescence in children with risk factors. NOTE: Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of heart disease. It is related to high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which are associated with poor eating habits and overweight.

Overweight children are more likely to have high blood pressure that can strain the heart.

People who are obese are at higher risk for a liver problem called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which can lead to cirrhosis.

Being overweight may cause a girl to reach puberty at an earlier age. Also, obesity may contribute to uterine fibroids or menstrual irregularities later in life.

Children who are overweight are at risk for obstructive sleep apnea, which is a serious, potentially life-threatening breathing disorder. Over a long period of time, this can lead to heart failure.

Overweight children and adolescents are more likely to become overweight or obese adults. It is an extremely difficult cycle to break. An unhealthy diet and a sedentary lifestyle are known risk factors for the two leading causes of death in adults: Cancer and Heart disease.

Teaching your child to eat healthy at an early age can greatly reduce their risk of experiencing these problems.

Commonly Overlooked Nutrients

There are certain nutrients and different types of vitamins that are very important for a child when it comes to their development. Of course this is true for everyone.

The truth is a lot of people are not aware of how important these nutrients are or exactly what types of nutrients they should be looking for in their food when making meals for their children. Don’t feel bad if your not sure about this topic because many people are not aware.

It is a fact that far too many children are consuming too many calories and not enough nutrients that come from healthy foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

In order for the body to work properly, it needs the right fuel. Much like the gas you put in your car. You would not put diesel fuel in a car designed to run on gas nor visa versa. Matter of fact you would not dream of it. Is our body any less important than our car? How about our children’s bodies?

All vitamins and minerals are important. Each has a function and may work synergistically with each other. This topic is far to big to cover here but we will add links at then end of this article for further learning.

Some of the most common nutrients missing from our children’s diets are as follows.

Calcium: Many children do not have enough calcium in their diet. It is needed to grow strong bones, among many other things. Dairy is not the only source nor always the best source. Some great sources of calcium are seeds, yogurt, sardines, canned salmon, beans, lentils, spinach, rhubarb, figs, and almonds.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is another nutrient that is extremely important for a great many things that make the body function properly. The best source of Vitamin D is sunshine.

These days children seem to spend far to much time indoors with school and screens of all kinds. It would be beneficial for parents to encourage our children to get outside more.

Very few foods offer a good dose of vitamin D. So if you feel your child is not getting some direct sunlight for a minimum of 15 to 20 minutes a day then you might want to consider supplementing.

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Potassium: Potassium is a very important part of anyone’s diet, but this is especially true when it comes to the diet of a child. Potassium can be found in many different types of food. A few examples would include beans, spinach, potatoes and tomatoes. Some fruits such as bananas also contain high amounts of potassium.

Vitamin A: Vitamin A is important for the immune system and eye health. It comes in two forms: retinol, which is mostly found in animal products, and provitamin A or beta-carotene, which is found in red, yellow, and some green fruits and vegetables.

While supplements can enhance a healthy diet – they will not balance an unhealthy one.

Another crucial component to our health is Fiber: Many people are not aware of just how important fiber is in their child’s diet. It helps digestion and contributes to good health. The best fiber rich foods are whole fruits and vegetables. Raw is best. Nuts and seeds are also fiber filled.

Teaching Kids to Eat Healthy

As parents it is up to us to teach our children what is important in life. Nutrition is what fuels the body and that fuel comes from food.

It goes without saying that starting our children on healthy foods from the very beginning will generally eliminate future problems. We have all tried to convince our toddler to eat a vegetable that they did not want to eat. However, if we feed them those vegetables from the beginning we may avoid such events.

Some parents replace conventional baby food with pureed food that they make in a high speed blender. If they are having broccoli for dinner, they may just toss some into the blender and feed the baby much the same as they are eating. This eliminates the processed stuff.

As soon as they are old enough to understand we can teach them the reasons for consuming healthy foods and the negative results of eating processed and junk foods. We can explain, in a simple way, how the right food makes us grow up without some of the health issues some of their friends may be facing.

How do we do this in the most effective way?

Be a Good Example
One of the best ways to teach your child to be healthy would be to set an example and eat healthy foods yourself. Think about it, your child follows everything you do and uses you as their example for what you are supposed to do and how you are supposed to act in life. Therefore, if you set a positive example and make sure that you eat a healthy diet they will almost surely follow suit.

Stock Up on Healthy Food and Drink
When the kids head to the fridge or cupboard for a snack, we can make sure we are stocked up with healthy choices. At least better choices than the standard junk food. These days there are so many choices for more healthy snacks than there ever was before.

The same goes for drinks. Just water is a great idea. But there are other choices that can be found.

NOTE: Soda is probably the most worthless product available. It is, basically, nothing more than colored sugar water. And the average can of soda touts a shocking 10 teaspoons of sugar. Avoiding it altogether would be ideal.

Breakfasts is Important

I am sure you have heard it many times but one more time. Breakfast is very important.

A good, nutritional breakfast can make all the difference in our day. Studies show that everyone does much better if they start their day with a good breakfast.

It promotes more energy, better focus and less mood swings. Children who head off to school after a healthy breakfast seem to do better than those who do not. They are more likely to be more alert, have better memory and problem solving skills.

If they had a healthy breakfast instead of a sugar filled one they are not going to have the big sugar high then the crash that comes afterwards. Some kids run on these sugar highs and lows all day long. It is very hard on the entire system to continue like that.

The following are some examples of some healthy breakfast ideas.

Even on a hurried day, a Banana is better than a donut.

Eggs are healthy and make a great breakfast. They are packed with protein which is very important to have in your child’s diet. There are so many different things we can do with eggs that I am sure you will find some that your child will enjoy.

Oatmeal is another healthy food that you should not have a hard time getting your child to eat. Oatmeal contains high amounts of fiber-rich whole grains. Oatmeal is digested slowly which will also give your child a steady stream of energy to get them through their day. Spice it up with some raisins and cinnamon.

Smoothies are another delicious idea that is fast and nutritious with the right ingredients. Mix up some yogurt, milk and fruit. YUM.

Overnight Oats are easy to make in a mason jar. Instead of cooking, leave the jar in the fridge and let the oats soften overnight. Your child can customize this with their favorite toppings. Mix about 1/4 cup of rolled oats and 1/2 cup of any type of milk in a small Mason jar. Top with nuts, shredded coconut, chia seeds, and dried or fresh fruit.

There are numerous books relating to healthy eating for children. Even recipe books. There are also book just for the kids to help them learn about healthy eating. A few examples here.

Meal time is very important and it should not be spent in front of the TV. Meal times are a chance for bonding, and believe it or not they offer a perfect opportunity to teach your children the importance of eating healthy food.
The following are some examples of how and why eating as a family can encourage healthy eating habits that will be sure to keep your child well nourished.

Parents are Examples
As mentioned before, your child looks up to you for guidance in everything you do, including the food that you choose to eat. If your child sees you eating healthy food on a regular basis, they will be much more likely to eat healthy food as well.

The social interaction that is provided by eating meals as a family can contribute to a child having healthier eating habits for many different reasons. One of the most beneficial reasons is probably the fact that eating as a family and having conversations as a family will force your child to slow down with their eating. This will help your child better determine when they are full and this will help your child refrain from over eating.


I am sure that just as with all other parents, you want nothing but the best and happiest life for your child or children. One of the best places to start to ensure your child will have a healthy and happy life is to make sure that they are raised with an understanding of how important proper nutrition is.

It may be difficult to get your child to eat healthy foods in the beginning. This is especially true when it comes to children that are already used to unhealthy snacks, drinks, and treats. With enough effort and determination you can surely make it happen though.

I hope that this article has provided you with some information that will help you in your battle to ensure that your child is receiving the best nutrition possible in their diet. Just remember, it will get easier as the time goes by.

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Linda Carlson is a Certified Nutrition & Wellness Counselor (retired) with 25+ years background. You can find her book on Amazon

The information in the above article is the opinion and/or experience of the author. It is for educational purposes only and not intended as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before beginning any treatment program. We make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied.

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