The news is in! According to the Raine Study, children who had a healthy diet during the first three years of life had higher cognitive outcomes when assessed at age ten. Specifically, increased fruit consumption at age one and dairy consumption at ages two and three were positively associated with cognitive development, while consumption of sweetened beverages was negatively associated with cognitive development. Helping your children develop healthy eating habits at a young age may, in fact, influence mental development later in life.
When I was younger, my mom always had breakfast sitting out for me before I went to school. Whether it be milk and cereal already poured into a bowl, or a piece of toast with an egg on top, there was always something waiting for me. Having breakfast consistently when I was younger helped me understand that it was important to eat all three meals of the day, especially breakfast. I can never go a day without having something in the morning before I leave for work. My favorite breakfast item by far is strawberries and cream oatmeal made with milk.
Check out these tips to help your child incorporate nutrient-rich, healthful foods into their everyday diet!
Tips for a Healthy, Kid-Friendly Diet
- Stock your cupboard with healthy snacks. When you go to the grocery, try to buy mostly healthy snacks, such as string cheese, snack-sized applesauce, trail mix, and yogurt.
- Cut up fruits and vegetables in advance. Try buying a ‘stoplight’ array of peppers (red, green, & yellow usually come in a package) and cut them up into slices as soon as you get home. Offering peppers with a side of ranch dressing can be a tasty, quick snack.
- Serve new foods with familiar ones. Sometimes creating a combination dish will help kids try new foods. Try adding cheese sauce to a new vegetable or mixing a new fruit with yogurt or ice cream.
- Build a healthy plate. Using the MyPlate model, try to have each food group represented at every meal. Having a colorful plate may entice your child to try more foods.
- Be a good role model. Show your kids how to eat healthy by modeling a healthy diet yourself. Children learn by example!