This is the last week of National Nutrition Month and I thought I would wrap up this month with my thoughts on the importance of food and nutrition for our kids. If you know me, or have been following along with me on social media or my blog, you may know that I am passionate about the importance of good nutrition for kids. On one hand we want kids to have control of what goes into their bodies, giving them autonomy to make decisions about what they want to eat and how much. But on the other hand as their parents we want to keep good nutrition in mind when we are deciding what foods to buy for the home and what meals to make for our kids.
So why is food and nutrition so important? And what easy things can you do to make nutrition a priority when feeding your kids? Keep reading to see my thoughts.
Why Food Matters
Food is Fuel
Sometimes we eat and don’t think much of it. Something sounds good so or we are running out the door so we grab something. Food has a major purpose of fueling us to go about our daily lives. And yes calories on their own do that, but our body also needs all the right amounts of macronutrients and micronutrients to accomplish lots of bodily functions. So while calories may fuel us in the sense of energy, having all we need to fuel our bodies comes from good nutrition.
Food is Connection
Food is an essential part of human culture and society, and plays a significant role in connecting people, which includes creating connections between parents and kids. Food creates emotional connections for kids, teaches them about cultural traditions, the joy of social gatherings and can build shared experiences through cooking and sharing meals.
Growth and development
Good nutrition is essential for optimal growth and development in children. Proper nutrition provides kids with the necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are needed for growth and development of muscles, bones, the brain, other tissues and the immune system.
Starting good nutrition early sets kids up for preventing and managing chronic diseases. Proper nutrition plays a role in maintaining a healthy weight, reducing inflammation, controlling blood sugar, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and providing antioxidants which can also aid in preventing chronic diseases.
Mood and behavior
Nutrition plays and important role in the development of a child’s brain and can have a significant impact on their mood and behavior. Balanced blood sugars, allergies and intolerances, nutrient deficiencies that affect brain development, like omega-3’s, and gut health all contribute to a child’s mood and behavior.
How to Eat with Nutrition in Mind as a Family
I realize that eating nutritiously can be hard with young kids, and feeding them in a way that meets their vitamin and mineral needs through a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins is easier said than done. You may already know some of the reasons I mentioned above and it’s more about how to get your kids to eat more nutritiously. Here’s some ideas that can help:
- Pick out a new fruit or vegetable to eat that you or maybe your kids haven’t tried every week
- Try more plant based meals
- Eat more meals together
- Let kids help with food preparation
- Start a garden and involve your kids
I love good food and I have even grown in my love for food, getting to enjoy and see excitement on my kids faces when they eat a favorite food or try something new with surprising delight. Nutrition is important, but equally as important is teaching kids to find joy in eating.
Cheers to raising happy & healthy eaters!