The Benefits of Healthy Eating for Children
Your child should be eating a balanced, varied diet. This means eating nutritious foods that contain essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients. But why is this so important?
To demonstrate the importance of healthy eating for children, we’ve listed six key benefits.
The body grows exponentially during childhood.
In order for healthy growth, children need the right nutrients and energy. For example, sufficient amounts of calcium and vitamin D are necessary for strong bones.
Nutritious foods that contain vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and proteins are ideal for growth and development. For healthy bones, we love fortified cereals, dark leafy greens and salmon!
You can visit the Government’s Eatwell Guide for more recommendations about a balanced diet.
Increased brain development
Healthy eating and children’s learning are linked because diet fuels the brain.
Research suggests that nutritious foods can help the brain function and create better focus at school. If children do not receive enough iodine and iron, for example, they can experience cognitive delays and motor development delays.
We recommend fatty fish, eggs and peanut butter for improved memory and focus. Whole grains, which contain B vitamins and fibre, are also a great brain food for children.
Unhealthy eating habits can be linked to low attention spans and bad behaviour.
A stronger immune system
Eating healthily helps children to avoid bugs such as cold and the flu.
Vegetables rich in beta-carotene (e.g. sweet potatoes) are great as our bodies convert it to Vitamin A. Vitamin A helps to keep mucosal linings in our nose and lungs robust to defend against infection.
Vitamin C is also good for the immune system. Research shows that eating fruits and vegetables can decrease the risk of getting ill, whilst routine fast-food consumption creates a higher risk.
Avoid a variety of health problems
Childhood obesity rates are high in the UK. According to the RCPCH (Royal College of Pediatrics and Child’s Health), one in five children is overweight or obese when they start primary school.
Obesity is a dangerous disease that can lead to other health issues such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, asthma and high cholesterol.
Eating well will also ensure healthy tooth development in children. Sugary foods, on the other hand, break down the enamel causing cavities and tooth decay.
The American Heart Association recommends that sugar intake for children is limited to 3 teaspoons a day, so watch out for the hidden sugar that can be found in drinks, frozen dinners and fast food.
A long-term healthy relationship with food
A healthy diet during the early years means that these good eating habits will be carried with them throughout their lives.
Parents pass their eating habits on to their children, so modelling a healthy relationship with food is crucial. By eating a broad, well-balanced diet at home, you can help your child to enjoy a wide variety of cuisines, whilst teaching them about different cultures.
Teaching children about healthy eating doesn’t have to be dull. Encouraging an interest in food (e.g. through growing your own vegetables or cooking a meal together) is a fun way to reset your child’s food preferences so that they make healthier food choices.
Improved mental wellbeing
Did you know that 90% of serotonin (the happiness hormone) is produced in our guts?
It’s no wonder that eating healthily improves mood and sense of wellbeing!
A healthy diet can also help to prevent conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and ADHD. If your child has already been diagnosed with one of these conditions, a healthy diet can help them to manage the symptoms.
On the other hand, poor diets with high saturated fats, processed foods and refined carbohydrates are linked to poor mental health in children and adolescents. Avoid foods that impair your child’s mood by using fresh, natural produce.
Healthy Eating at Maryam’s Nursery
At Maryam’s, we place immense importance on providing well-balanced, healthy food for nursery children. That’s why we work with a nutritionist and our own experienced on-site chef to cook fresh, healthy and tasty meals.
We encourage all of our children to discover new cuisines and be conscious of their eating habits.
We do this by changing our menus weekly and including a variety of nursery meal plans, such as meatless Mondays, international Wednesdays and fish Fridays, among others.
You can find out more about our organic nursery meal plans here.