Good nutrition plays a vital role in a child's academic performance. However, according to recent data gathered by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, only one in 25 children met the daily recommended guidelines for vegetable consumption, and most kids are eating unhealthy food on a daily basis. Poor nutrition not only affects a child's health, but also their ability to learn.
A study by the Society of Neuroscience found that diets with high levels of saturated fats can impair learning and memory. Meanwhile, a diet that's loaded with artificial sugars can have a negative impact on attention, focus, and memory retention, as well as affect a child's mood.
Good nutrition goes beyond eating fresh produce daily-- it's also about knowing the right portions and having a set schedule for mealtimes. Teaching children the basics of good nutrition not only helps them to be healthy while they're young, but it also enables them to become better learners and make good choices once they become grown ups.
Here are some easy ways to teach your child to eat healthfully.
Show them how it's done
The best way to show kids how to eat right is to practice what you preach. During mealtimes, make it a point to fill half of your plate with vegetables, a quarter of it with protein, and the remaining space with some starch.
Explain why you've chosen to fill your plate this way, and inform them that the nutrients in the vegetables can make you healthier in various ways. Don't be vague by just saying that eating broccoli is "good for you." But don't overwhelm them with information either. Instead, let them know how a certain vegetable can benefit their health.
For instance, the Vitamin C in broccoli can prevent them from getting sick. Meanwhile, the Vitamin A in their carrot sticks can help them to have good eyesight, which will be an advantage whether they're studying or watching their favorite TV show.
Give older kids some in-depth information
Some tweens and teenagers have a tendency to eat or snack mindlessly, so giving them some in-depth information about what goes into their body and how it will affect their health is a must. Older kids may want to know more about the food that they consume, especially if these have an effect on their overall health.
You can teach them to read the labels at the back of food packaging so they'll know about the calories that they're consuming, as well as the total carbohydrate count and sugars in each food item. Explain how eating too much carbs and sugar can result in certain health conditions, such as obesity and diabetes.
Moreover, let them know that consuming too much of these can trigger imbalances in the brain and may lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. This may help them realize why they feel down after bingeing on junk food and sugary treats. Also, keep in mind that when educating older kids about nutrition, it's crucial to put the emphasis on the effect of food choices on overall health rather than appearance. Doing so will encourage them to eat healthfully for all the right reasons.
Get them involved
Kids of all ages are more likely to be interested in healthy eating if they're allowed to choose and make their own food. Let them accompany you to the grocery store or the market whenever you're shopping so they'll know how to pick the right foods.
Allow them to participate during meal prep by letting them pick veggies in the garden. You can also supervise them while they cut up vegetables and fruits for a salad. You can also make mealtimes more interactive by allowing them to assemble their own sandwiches or yogurt parfaits.
Involving children in food selection and preparation helps them to know what goes into their meals, and it teaches them valuable life skills too.
Knowing about good nutrition can benefit a child today and in the years to come. Try these tips to help your child learn how to eat healthfully so that they can become good learners and make wise food decisions on their own later on.