Establishing healthy habits begins by setting the standard from a young age, with parents and their pediatrician partnering to nurture an optimal environment for the children under their care.
Under the guidance of your pediatrician, achieving optimal health for your child can be accomplished through a number of channels, from changes in nutrition and lifestyle to the use of supplements, essential oils, and herbs to facilitate the reduction of stress. In certain instances, collaborative care with homeopaths, acupuncturists, and chiropractors have proven to provide natural benefits, while preserving the integrity of the still-maturing immune, nervous, and digestive systems.
Ensuring that children receive adequate nutrition can be a substantial challenge, especially for those dealing with more picky eaters. This is a crucial element, however, one that helps those in their formative years maintain an ideal weight, avoid potential health issues, stabilize moods, and sharpen minds. Cultivating these healthy habits can help prevent conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and ADHD.
By opting for foods low in sugar and high in complex carbohydrates—such as brown rice, sweet potatoes, beans and nuts—as well as fruit and raw vegetables, and choosing healthy fats—such as avocados—in lieu of trans fats, meals can be constructed to fuel your child’s day. Breakfast, especially, is crucial to jumpstart energy, and foods high in protein, such as eggs, are recommended. Apples or bananas with nut butter is another kid-friendly, healthy breakfast or snack option.
Eliminating sweets, fried foods and sugary drinks as much as possible is critical for your child's optimal health; encourage moderation in dietary choices where elimination is a challenge. Give them options at the table and praise them for trying new foods and making healthy choices.
Nutrition is an extension of the family dynamic, in that meal times should be regarded as an opportunity for everyone to gather together. By leading by example with their own dietary choices, parents can set healthy eating expectations while also gauging their children’s eating habits. If home-cooked meals are established as the norm, there will be less of an inclination to order takeout or head to the drive-through, for example. Engage your child in nutrition education. Allow them to participate in food shopping, meal planning and cooking, too.
Should you notice any weight or body issues beginning to manifest, consult your pediatrician. By only encouraging eating when hungry, limiting beverages (other than water) and snacks between meals, and taking steps to stay active as a family by participating in group exercise activities such as playing, walking, hiking or biking, parents can play a pivotal role in helping their children to develop healthy habits that will carry them through a long and fulfilling life.
For more information on best practices, please contact the Northport Wellness Center.