Humans are a habitual species. We learn to do things out of habit, from waking up at a specific time in the morning to choosing the type of foods we eat at dinner. It’s part of what makes us wholly unique.
We picked up many of our habits from childhood, and as habitual as we are, kids are doubly impressionable. While they will learn healthy habits from physical education, it’s your job as a parent to make sure they understand the importance of exercise and nutrition as a lifestyle choice, not just a school period. Let’s look at why it’s important for kids to develop those healthy habits early on.
Developing Food Preferences
Many adults develop an aversion to certain foods, like broccoli or mushrooms, despite the fact that these foods are good for the body. Regularly providing your kids with nutritious foods helps to build their food preferences. When they’re older, your kids won’t mind eating that bowl of broccoli because they already have a taste for it.
Along with teaching physical education, make sure to feed your kids a ton of fresh fruits and veggies, along with whole grains like oatmeal, and low-fat milk. Your kids will actually learn to prefer these foods over unhealthier alternatives, like soda, sweets, and fried foods. These foods tend to have excessive amounts of sugar and salt, which only goes towards destroying your kids’ taste buds. A pure diet will help them appreciate a more diverse range of foods and complex flavors from herbs and spices.
Reducing Obesity and Improving Overall Health
Currently in the United States, about one in three kids is overweight or obese. Much of that is caused by the average person’s lifestyle, which includes easily attainable junk foods. Not that that excuses anything. Childhood obesity translates to a variety of health problems that only carry over as kids grow up. Believe it or not, your kids won’t magically grow out of that obesity, especially if they continue to eat nothing but French fries, sweets, and other high-fat foods.
Teach your children the importance of eating a nutritious and balanced diet from a young age, including foods that will help weight control. When possible, avoid feeding kids fast food or other unhealthy snacks. Think of these things as sporadic treats, not regular menu items.
Of course, aside from obesity, a healthy diet maintains your kids’ overall health. Research shows that kids who eat healthily are also more likely to adopt healthy lifestyle habits, including staying physically active, a habit that will stick from preschool physical education class to recreational sports as an adult.
Promoting Growth and Development
Your kids are growing up. They need a ton of foods dense in nutrients and vitamins/minerals to grow and develop. The average fast food burger doesn’t have all the vitamins and nutrients that your kids need. Feeding your kids a diverse array of healthy foods ensures that your kids get enough calcium for strong bones and protein for healthy muscle development.