A healthy, nutritious diet helps children grow and learn. It also helps prevent weight-related diseases, such as diabetes and obesity. Children need different amounts of specific nutrients at different ages. They need to eat three meals daily and have healthy snacks in between. The more active your child is, the more calories he or she needs. Here are some ways to encourage your child to follow a nutritious diet:



Sodium is an essential mineral for life. It is regulated in the body by the kidneys. It helps control the body’s fluid balance, affects muscle function and helps send nerve impulses. An Australian study showed the brain responds to sodium in the same way it responds to substances such as cocaine and heroin, which may explain why we tend to overindulge in high-sodium foods.



A balanced healthy diet should contain a variety of nutritious foods and sufficient vitamins and minerals. Such a diet can help you maintain a healthy body weight and reduce your risk of many diet-related problems, such type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. It’s recommended men have around 2,500 calories a day and women 2,000 calories a day. Studies indicate eating a typical Western diet filled with packaged meals, takeout foods, processed meats and sugary snacks may lead to stress, high rates of depression....


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• Explain your reasoning with confidence. When someone asks why you’re going gluten-free or not eating cake, clearly explain that you’re hoping to improve the way you eat or that you don’t want to feel sluggish from the sugar. You just might help someone else make a healthier choice.

• Team up. Find an office buddy who wants to start eating better and challenge that person to a lunch outing. Agree that you’ll both order an item with vegetables or skip the soda. Doing it together takes the spotlight off you and hopefully inspire others to team up with you.

You shouldn’t have to sacrifice healthy nutrition to fit in with a group. Instead of being embarrassed by others’ comments, use them as an opportunity to start a discussion about healthy eating. Be sure to come from a positive, nonjudgmental viewpoint. You never know how your actions can impact the way someone else thinks about their own nutritional choices.

How many times have you gone out to eat with the intention of ordering a healthy dish, only to change your mind after you’ve heard what everyone else has ordered?

There are a few reasons we do this. Sometimes it’s a matter of will power. When everyone else is ordering burgers or pasta, suddenly your salad doesn’t sound as appetizing. You give in because the other options sound too good to pass up.

Other times, you may order as the rest of the group does because you want to fit in. You don’t want to stand out as the only person who ordered something healthy at a restaurant famous for its loaded burgers. Maybe you’re experimenting with a gluten-free or dairy-free diet and don’t want to draw attention to it.

It can be difficult to make healthy choices when you’re surrounded by people who aren’t committed to a similar lifestyle. Whether it’s your coworkers, friends or family members, you may be afraid or just plain tired of the comments they make about your food choices. When you’re the only one at an office party or family gathering eating greens while everyone else is loading up on pizza, you stick out like a sore thumb. An office full of adults can easily turn into a high school gym class, picking on the “nerd” who brought vegetables to work for a snack when there are donuts



Michelle Chalkey is a Des Moines-based freelance writer specializing in health and lifestyle topics. She enjoys helping businesses communicate their messages through blogging and effective storytelling. Connect with Michelle on Facebook or check out her blog for helpful tips on the writing process and productivity.

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in the break room.

Being called out for your diet is no reason to sacrifice your health. Rather, it’s a reason to embrace it. If your goal is to improve your eating habits, you should celebrate rather than deny it. Instead of lowering your health standards to fit in, accept your eating choices as your way of life. Be proud of it. And if people ask, use the opportunity to teach them about the benefits of healthy eating. With any goal you make for yourself, there will be people who try to bring you down or stand in your way. They don’t necessarily mean to derail your progress. Often their interference is because they want this goal for themselves and aren’t making progress as you are.

Rather than sacrificing your healthy habits, try the following tips to own your diet:

• Bring a healthy dish to office potlucks and holiday parties. It’s take a chance to wow everyone with how delicious healthy food can taste. Make your favorite recipe and proudly share it with the group.