"Life is precious—and health is its most important resource."   Dr Jamie McManus, MD

Children grow at a much faster rate during their first few years than at any other time in their lives, stressing the need for parents to ensure optimal nutrition. Of special importance are macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) that provide calories and essential vitamins and minerals critical to proper growth, development, and immune function—including all eight B vitamins and vitamins C, A, and D, as well as calcium, iron, and zinc. In addition, growing children should achieve adequate intakes of omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA, which is essential for early brain and eye development.

Although specific nutrient needs vary throughout the different stages of life, there is probably not a more critical time for optimal nutrition than during childhood—especially early childhood. Good nutrition is absolutely essential for the development of healthy bodies that will thrive with abundant energy, healthy brain function, a responsive immune system, and strong bones and teeth.

Healthful eating and exercise habits established during childhood also will help reduce the risk of obesity as well as many degenerative and lifestyle-related diseases of adulthood, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, hypertension, osteoarthritis, and other conditions related to nutrition, weight, and lifestyle. In other words, acquiring beneficial lifestyle habits early in life—making nutritious and healthful food choices, being physically active, and filling in nutritional gaps with the appropriate dietary supplements—can provide a strong foundation for a lifetime of health and wellness.

Establishing Healthful Eating Habits
Establishing healthful eating habits early in life starts with parents and all caregivers of young children introducing and making available the most nutritious foods. We need to offer at all meals and snack times nutritious food choices that include a variety of age-appropriate foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals, legumes, low-fat or nonfat dairy products, poultry, lean meats,and fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. This also means eliminating or at least minimizing the unhealthful choices. Fast food tends to be high in saturated fats, calories, sugar, and salt, and fairly absent in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Children today are consuming sodas and sweetened juice drinks—which deliver excessive amounts of high-fructose corn syrup—far more frequently than milk and water, which is contributing to the rising incidence of childhood and teen obesity.

Parents, let’s be responsible not only for what our children eat, but when and where as well. Fostering healthful eating habits means setting a good example. Practicing the same healthful eating habits you preach for your children is one of the strongest learning tools a parent can offer to a child.

In addition, parents should strive to make more time to eat meals at home together as a family, engage children in meal planning and food preparation, introduce new foods or recipes on a regular basis, ensure the availability of nutritious snacks, and help children make intelligent food choices when eating out. These are good habits and choices that will benefit the entire family!

Source is from "SuperWell--SuperKids"  by the Health Sciences Staff of Shaklee Corporation.

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