Building Blocks of Health: How to inspire your child with healthy eating habits
We all know that eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is good for our health and it’s often said how important it is for our kids, but it can be difficult to grasp just how much it can really affect their little growing bodies.
Your child’s growth and development isn’t just about what they do in their sessions with us or in any other physical activities. A healthy diet plays an integral role in everything from simple brain function to lifelong prevention of diseases.
There are some really important things we want you to know so you can find a happy medium with your little ones eating habits and show that it can be just as enjoyable as what goes on in the gym!
So, let’s jump in...
Does your little one ever ask you “But whyyy do I have to eat my broccoli?” or “whyyy can’t I have chocolate for breakfast every morning?”
Well, there are countless reasons for opting for nutritious foods instead of those full of sugar. It not only helps us to fuel our bodies more efficiently throughout the day, it can also help with speech and language, building physical strength aswell as protecting muscles and joints from injury.
It has been found that an unhealthy diet early in life was associated with poorer cognitive development in later childhood, so whilst breakfast cereals and sweets can provide a short term boost in energy levels, there is no nutritional value that helps towards growth and development.
So it might be time to switch to some lovely nutritious oats, natural yoghurt or a handful of their 5 a day fruits and vegetables instead. Not only to improve cognitive development and help strengthen bones, but also to improve overall mental wellbeing and prevent diabetes, obesity and other chronic diseases.
And don’t forget that more than 90%of Serotonin (the happy hormone) is produced in the intestine, so with the proper nutrition your child could be enjoying even more happiness in life, as well as higher self-esteem and confidence.
Calories and nutrients
We understand that hearing the words calories and nutrients may not sound very fun but we promise it doesn’t have to be as confusing as it can sometimes sound.
Children need to have a balance of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, dairy and a variety of fruits and vegetables… and lots of them!
When planning your child’s meals, lunch boxes and snacks, you will want to ensure that they’re getting a good mixture of nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron & Fibre. You can find these nutrients in all sorts of leafy dark green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli as well as lots of fruits and other colourful vegetables.
The 5 a day rule really does help with this!
Try to change it up every now and then, so your child doesn’t get too bored of having the same two vegetables at every meal.
If you want some more information and examples of foods that provide these important nutrients, take a look at this article.
When it comes to calories, your child’s age, size and activity levels will determine how much they need and each child is different, but remember that how your child gets these calories is also really important.
Try to choose healthy, nutrient dense foods and drinks, instead of sugary, processed food and drink as much as you possibly can.
But you know we’re all about balance, (not just on the beam!) and we believe in teaching children how to make their own healthy choices.
If you can demonstrate making those healthier choices and a positive relationship with food, you might end up with a child that chooses carrot sticks instead of cakes… Imagine that!
Putting it into practice
We know it’s easier said than done, so here are some tips on how you can implement this into your kid’s life without it feeling like a chore… for them or for you!
- Enjoy meals together at the table to show how much you enjoy mealtimes and the food that you’re eating. This can give them the confidence to try new healthy foods.
- Finger foods can be easier and more enjoyable for some children.
- Eat in a calm environment where possible avoiding technology or other toys/games, as this can be a distraction from eating the healthy foods. Instead, they might just choose to wait for the sugary snack.
- Involve your children in food shopping and meal prep. They’re more likely to eat it if they’ve enjoyed the whole experience that comes before mealtimes.
- Drinking plenty of water between meals will help digestion. It can even make them feel less hungry which might keep the snack draw fuller for a bit longer.
- 3 meals every day with 1-2 healthy snacks in between is enough to aid in their development and maintaining energy levels throughout the day. Add a snack or 2 more if your little one is very active.
- Avoid processed, salty or sugary foods like crisps, biscuits, cakes, or sweets, keeping these as infrequent treats. These have near to 0 nutritional value, and you might just end up with an energetic little monkey that just keeps wanting more!
If you’re looking for some inspiration for recipes that are suitable and healthy for your growing child, take a look at these easy and affordable step-by-step recipes from NHS Better Health, Healthier Families and BBC Good Food.
We really hope this helps you with your child’s eating habits and has given you some food for thought on how to help their growth and development for a lifetime of all-round health, not just the physical.
If you’re thinking of enrolling your child into Gymnastics to complement their healthy eating, why not jump into one of our Beth Tweddle Gymnastics FREE taster sessions.