Healthy Eating: Does it matter?

Galapagos tortoise (RJB; 2011; Galapagos)

Yes.

FACT: Eating well helps mood, sleep, and concentration, as well as general health.

It really does not make a lot of sense to take medication for any of these while continuing a pattern of unhealthy eating.  It often is that improving eating (and then getting better sleep) helps mood, sleep and concentration enough to stop or lower doses of medication. But how to convince children of this?

There is no great trick or secret to helping children eat well.  Model healthy eating habits at home, have plenty of fruit and vegetables available for snacks and look for a good source of protein for each meal – especially school-day breakfasts.  Get rid of as much junk food as possible (best not to keep it in the house.)

As children reach early elementary age involve them in shopping and meal decisions.  Don’t be afraid to break patterns;  pizza, spaghetti or soup  for breakfast or even fruit and yogurt smoothies for supper can add interest to the day and make picky eaters more enthusiastic.

Older children and teens have more opportunities to make choices regarding food.  Planning ahead for family meals and snack food options help open discussions about health and good choices.  Try to resist  fast food  for supper (hard on those rushed days with multiple activities) but if it is necessary look for options with  good protein and vitamin sources.

Eating healthy and feeling healthy often go hand-in-hand.  There is much we can’t control or change  for our children, but having good choices of  food available and modeling healthy eating habits is a profound way to influence children and promote life-long benefits.

 

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