How to Talk to Your Kids about a Balanced Diet

father and son cooking

Convincing your family of the importance of eating a healthy balanced diet can be difficult at times. Telling your child that he or she should eat a balanced and healthy diet because “I say so,”  is unlikely to have much staying power beyond those very early years.  However, meaningful trials and explanations can inspire changes in children’s behavior.

Children need to know and understand what a healthy diet can do for their bodies.  Looking and feeling their best becomes more important as they reach tween and teen years. Explain to your child that the key to having energy, powerful muscles, and strong bones, is to include the kinds of food the body needs, including those rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein.

Regularly consuming a variety of different foods is essential for children to develop a strong body and feel their best.   According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, at least half of the grains consumed should be whole grains.  Vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy are also recommended daily sources of important nutrients.   Additionally, smaller amounts of lean meats, fish and poultry are good sources of protein, which are important for healthy bodies.  Beans are a great high protein and fiber source as well as a less expensive meat alternative.  Explain to your child the necessity of making water their drink of choice to aid digestion and blood circulation.  Drinking water in place of juice or sports drinks to remove unnecessary calories and sugar from their diet is a healthy change that should be encouraged.

Children are never too young to start learning how to practice moderation. Foods they love like pizza certainly have a place in a healthy diet as long as children understand that foods that are high in calories, fat, sugar, and salt can negatively affect their bodies if eaten too often.  Eating too many of these types of foods can result in arteries that are clogged with a waxy substance that leads to an unhealthy heart.  It is necessary to carefully select food so that healthier options are not replaced by those that are higher in fat, sugar and salt. Encouraging balanced, healthy diets can help our children grow to be and feel their best! 


Liz Smith Ohio State University Extension


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, BAM—Body and Mind!