Cultivating healthy food habits, early in a child’s life, can have a major impact on the rest of their lives. Because diets directly impact other aspects of their lifestyle – learning, exercising, socializing, concentration, focus etc. – staff and administrators at Bethesda daycare consciously encourage children to eat healthy snacks and meals. For those healthy habits to bear fruit, however, it’s important for parents and home caregivers to continue encouraging kids to make healthy eating choices.
Healthy Food Habits and Academic Performance
Children attending daycare in Bethesda MD have a structured regimen and daily routine – including for meals and snacks. These professionally prepared meal guidelines help provide healthy, nutritious, and tasty meals for children across all age groups attending the center. There are many benefits to these meal programs:
At Bethesda daycare, healthy meals are a primary focus of the center’s administrators and staff. As a goal, exposing young children to healthy eating habits not only improves their mental and physical health, it also manifests itself in reducing health-related absenteeism. The more regular a child is in their attendance, the better their academic performance in the longer-term.
Parents, caregivers and guardians of children or adolescents can also play their part by including youngsters in the family chore of meal selection and preparation. This gives the adults an opportunity to pass on invaluable culinary skills to the child. But it also gives adults the chance to underscore the importance of adopting a healthy diet early in the child’s life.
Understanding What “healthy” Means
When you see gym-bag totting, trim and fit adults on the streets or malls, and in office buildings, sipping a protein shake, perhaps it conveys a wrong idea about what “healthy” food is. The good news is, that healthy foods go beyond veggie shakes and green leafy salads. That’s why, kids attending daycare in Bethesda MD have a much broader variety of foods on the menu – all of them healthy choices!
So, what types of foods should parents and caregivers introduce young children to, earlier on in life? The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) have published informative facts about healthy child nutrition in their Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. These guidelines include specific healthy food recommendations for infants, toddlers, older children, and adolescents. They include:
The guidelines strongly recommend putting a limit to calory intake from solid fats, which contribute to saturated fats and trans fatty acids. And, as part of a healthy diet, individuals must reduce their intake of sodium (salt) and added-sugar meals and drinks. These general rules apply equally to children, as they do to adults.
The authors of the guidelines found that, unfortunately, children and adolescents typically aren’t following the prescribed guidelines for healthy eating. That’s why, when planning daily meals for children at Bethesda daycare, health and nutrition experts are mindful about introducing healthy eating habits to young kids early in their lives.
Promoting Healthy Food Habits
While most parents and care givers understand the importance of promoting a healthy lifestyle for their children, the challenge, however, is: How do you encourage young kids to adopt healthy eating habits; and how do you get them to enjoy healthy foods? Well, for starters, here are a few tips to get you started:
Finally, don’t use food as a threat or punishment over children. Doing so may cause them to resent your healthy food recommendations, and further alienate them from embracing healthy eating habits. Most of all, use the allure of the occasional “unhealthy food splurge” as a reward for the child: ‘If you eat your broccoli every day this week, you can have a chocolate chip cookie on Saturday!’
MCCA has been recognized by the Maryland State Legislature for its commitment to Montgomery County issued a quality programs and special needs child care Proclamation in 2016 to MCCA for its commitment to Montgomery County child care for more than 50 years. MCCA was also selected as a 2018 nonprofit finalist for a MOXIE Award for boldness and innovation
MCCA is the oldest nonprofit licensed child care provider in Montgomery County and started its work in 1968 as a Community Action Project of the War on Poverty. Recognizing the need for quality child care programs in their neighborhoods, a group of local activists formed an association to establish centers in Montgomery County that would serve a diverse population and establish high standards for child care. Now, more than 50 years later, MCCA’s dedicated and expertly trained staff continue their tradition of providing high quality child care and play-based education for children.
Families with school aged children who can afford their child care expenses during the school year often struggle to afford the all-day programs they need when school is out for the summer. The Richard Krampf Summer Adventures Scholarship Fund was established to help provide children a safe and stimulating place to spend their weeks when school is out. Please contact an MCCA Director for details on how to apply.