No matter your age, good nutrition is key. When we choose to eat healthy, we are making a conscious effort to continually improve our well-being. When we teach young children about the importance of eating healthy, we are helping them to grow, develop, and maintain a healthy lifestyle they will carry on through adulthood. Making these smart food choices, along with regular physical activity, can significantly reduce the risk of developing serious health problems. For individuals who deal with chronic health problems, proper nutrition can aid in the management of their conditions. There are many other benefits that come with eating a healthy diet such as improved mood and mental health, a strengthened immune system, and more sustained energy.

In addition to the benefits of good nutrition, incorporating practical tools such as MyPlate can provide valuable guidance. MyPlate serves as a visual reminder of the types of foods we should be enjoying daily. It simplifies the process of making healthy choices by categorizing foods into five essential groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. By incorporating a variety of choices from each group into our daily meals, we make every bite count. Start by making simple adjustments to your daily meals. Whether you are cooking for yourself or your family, take time to plan out meals that include a variety of choices from each food group. If you are preparing for your family, make mealtimes a priority and connect with each other while preparing and enjoying meals together. Turn off the television, put away electronics, and enjoy time together as a family. Have conversations about the colors, texture, and flavor of the food being served.

Children often are more willing to try a food they have grown or prepared.
Photo credit: UF/IFAS photo taken by Camila Guillen.

Growing a garden at home is another fun way to get everyone adding more variety onto their plate. Start with fruits or vegetables that are familiar or even an herb garden that can grow in a kitchen window. Children of all ages will enjoy watching and tending to the garden. This may also inspire children and youth to assist with cooking and food preparation in the kitchen.

Remember, eating healthy is a choice you get to make every day. The importance of good nutrition cannot be overstated, regardless of age. Choosing to eat healthy is a conscious effort that has far-reaching implications for our well-being. By instilling the values of healthy eating in young children, we lay the foundation for a lifetime of positive habits, fostering growth, development, and the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle into adulthood.

Sharlee Whiddon
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