A healthy diet is important for everyone, but especially for kids because they need the right nutrition to help maintain a healthy weight, grow taller, have good eyesight, learn well and do better in school. A well-balanced diet also prevents long-term health issues, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, cavities and more.
To help with your nutritional journey, we will share some common myths and tips to ensure your kids are on the right path.
Myth: Some fruits are high in sugar.
True. Some fruits are high in natural sugars, which are still part of a healthy, balanced diet. This is because fruit contains other essential nutrients, such as potassium, antioxidants, fiber (apples/other fruit with skin on) and more. We recommend avoiding foods with added or processed sugar. Aim for half of a child’s plate to be filled with fruits and vegetables.
Myth: Clear sodas are healthy for you.
False. Sodas are high in sugar and do not belong in a healthy diet. Water is always the best and preferred source for hydration. Juice with natural sugar can be an alternative to soda, but moderation is important. Also, avoid sports drinks, which are also high in sugar, even if children are participating in strenuous activities. We recommend hydrating well the night before a big game or activity to best protect your kids from dehydration.
Myth: Carbs are bad for kids.
False. Carbs are essential to your child’s growth and should be enjoyed with each meal, but balance is key! Eating healthier means having the right balance of not just carbohydrates, but also proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals, which can be found in the different foods you eat every day, such as fruits, vegetables, meats, grains and everything in between. Preparation is also important -- you can make food more nutritious by the way you cook it. We recommend cooking with healthy oils, baking or sautéing more often and frying food less.
Note: Depending on your health risks, your doctor may recommend carefully restricting carbohydrates to keep your blood sugar controlled. Always follow your doctor’s advice on diet recommendations.
Myth: Canned and frozen vegetables and fruit are not healthy.
False. Canned and frozen vegetables are just as healthy as fresh fruits and vegetables. When choosing canned vegetables, choose the option with “no salt added,” and when choosing canned fruit, choose 100% natural juice, no added water or fillers.
Teaching your family and children about good nutritional habits early on will help them to make nutritious choices for themselves and their loved ones later in life. It won't always be easy, but when your family works together toward the same health goals, everyone wins!
As always, ask your doctor and healthcare team if you need help/advice. To learn more about nutritional health for kids, visit our healthy kids YouTube playlist.
About the Authors
Dr. Brandon Ang is a third-year pediatric resident with Valley Children’s Pediatric Residency Program. His approach to care is to form partnerships with his patients and families and empower them through education.
Dr. Ayesha Baig is a board-certified and fellowship-trained pediatric gastroenterologist. She joined the pediatric gastroenterology team at Valley Children’s in 2020 and specializes in inflammatory bowel disease and fatty liver disease.