The Benefits of Eating Healthy Foods as a Child

Eating a healthful diet has benefits throughout life. Starting a healthy lifestyle during childhood can have long-term advantages, according to the American Psychological Association. Following healthy habits during the formative years of childhood makes it more likely that your youngster will hold onto these habits throughout life. Use a nutrition guide like MyPlate to monitor your child’s food intake and to help make healthy choices.

Healthy Eating Defined

Healthful eating involves consuming a variety of whole and nutritious foods. By incorporating foods from the different food groups into every meal, kids should have a well-rounded and healthy diet. The “MyPlate” initiative by First Lady Michelle Obama seeks to simplify healthy eating by presenting a dinner plate divided into four different pieces with fruits and vegetables comprising half of the plate and grains and proteins comprising the other half, according to the KidsHealth website. A small circle to the right of the plate represents dairy in the diet. Foods that contain excess fats and sugars should become occasional foods, only added to the diet once in a while.

Strong Healthy Growth

Mother and Her Young Daughter Stand in the Kitchen Eating Cheese Sandwiches for Lunch

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Children have important daily dietary needs to support continued growth and physical development. Foods that contain vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates and protein will provide the nutrients necessary for growth and development. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children eat at least five fruits and vegetables each day.

Brain Development

Children who eat a healthy diet also receive direct brain development benefits, according to research associate Marc Goodman-Bryan with The Urban Child Institute. For example, if a child does not receive adequate intake of iodine and iron, she may experience both cognitive delays and motor development delays. A child whose diet is deficient in the essential fatty acid DHA might experience delays in learning and development.

Avoiding Health Problems

Mother and Her Young Daughter Stand in the Kitchen Eating Cheese Sandwiches for Lunch

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Eating healthy foods can also reduce the health problems faced by children. Children served healthy foods regularly may experience fewer cavities. Many chronic health problems, such as:

  • obesity
  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • cancer
  • have roots that trace back to an unhealthy childhood diet

When children start life with whole and healthy foods, they may avoid many heath issues that can affect them both during childhood and into adulthood.