|A young athlete holding up his medal.|
Part of facilitating a healthy lifestyle for your child is educating him or her about what constitutes a healthy diet. By teaching your child the basics of healthy, balanced eating, and putting those basics into practice, you will help him or her create a healthy eating lifestyle that can last a lifetime.
You should encourage your child to eat a healthy and balanced diet and make the necessary changes to his or her eating habits to facilitate the change. For example, items that should be very limited in a healthy diet include processed sugars such as candy, chocolate, and soda. Items that should take a prominent role include fruits, vegetables, and low-fat proteins. One key to a healthy diet is variety and moderation within the recommendations of the food pyramid.
Be a role model for your children. You may want to tell them, 'Do what I say, not what I do,' but your actions speak louder than words. Use this opportunity to change your own eating habits and create a healthier you along with your child.
A good start to healthy eating is learning the basics of the Food Guide Pyramid. An electronic copy of the pyramid can be downloaded from NCHPAD at Food Guide Pyramid.
By using the Food Guide Pyramid, you can help your child learn about the nutrients a body needs to be healthy. The body requires the following nutrients: carbohydrates, protein, fat (lipids), vitamins, minerals, and water. You will be able to teach them what foods offer what nutrients and what portions they should consume for a healthy, balanced diet. The pyramid can also be used to teach areas of focus for menu planning. For example, help your child to include all levels or areas of the pyramid when eating healthy. Keep in mind that the 'oils' area of the pyramid should be a small focus and ideally not used at every meal.
For information specific to your age, sex, and physical activity level, go to http://www.choosemyplate.gov/ to obtain a personalized Food Guide Pyramid.