Developing healthy habits for your children is important, especially at a young age. The first 1,000 days of life (conception through the age of two) is the most crucial time of a child’s growth and development. With poor nutrition contributing to nearly half of deaths in children under the age of five around the world, educating parents of young children on the importance of nutritious food is vital.
Feed the Children is dedicated to ensuring children receive the much-needed nutrients required for proper development. That’s why it partners with organizations and communities in the U.S. and in 10 countries around the world with the goal of providing children with vitamins, supplements, nutritious food and the resources needed to obtain these important items. Through its recent three-year partnership with Nature Made®, a leading national vitamin and supplement brand, the nonprofit strives to educate and provide a holistic health and wellness experience to families across the U.S.
“Together with Feed the Children, we want to promote the importance of good nutrition from a young age,” said Dr. Susan Hazels Mitmesser, Vice President of Science & Technology for Nature Made. “Encouraging healthy habits in early childhood not only ensures children receive the crucial nutrients they need for proper development, but also provides a foundation for a lifetime of good health.”
Many times, families living in low-income households in the U.S. have to choose between paying monthly utility and household bills or buying nutritious food. However, through a few simple tips, families can provide a brighter future for their children and help them to grow into healthy adults.
- Eat meals together: Studies have shown that eating together tends to promote more sensible eating habits. When kids eat with their parents, they are more likely to consume the USDA recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables. Additionally, it helps them handle the stresses of daily life and tends to lower the rates of obesity in both children and adults.
- Eat a balanced breakfast: Even if a child just has an apple with a glass of milk in the morning, it makes all the difference. Choosing a breakfast that is rich in fiber and protein jumps starts the brain and makes it easier to maintain energy throughout the day, which is vital for school-age children. They can better concentrate in class and participate in physical activities without potential exhaustion.
- Make sure children have plenty of protein: Growing children need ample protein. Children who don’t get enough protein can suffer from poor concentration, joint pain and fatigue. According to a Harvard study, millions of young children don’t get enough protein due to food insecurity. Parents who provide their children with lean meats, eggs, nuts and low-fat dairy products, can greatly improve their child’s digestive system. However, our bodies can only absorb about 30 grams of protein at once, so it should be consumed it in small amounts multiple times a day.
- Get your child involved: One of the best ways to get children to play an active role in their nutrition is to involve them in the process of grocery shopping and cooking. While parents are having a balanced meal with their children, they can use this time to have an open dialogue about the importance of their health. By nature, children voice their likes and dislikes concerning food. Parents can use their opinions to craft a healthy routine for their future.
“It’s perfectly fine and actually good to indulge with your family from time to time, but it’s also important to establish good eating habits and promote a healthy lifestyle for your child’s development,” said Katie Van Es, Sr. Program Officer-Food & Nutrition and Health & Water for Feed the Children. “If you eat healthy meals with your children, they are more likely to grow up making healthier choices.”