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Myth 17: I'm Healthy so it Doesn't Matter What I Eat

Pediatric Fitness

Myth 17: I'm Healthy so it Doesn't Matter What I Eat

There are many misconceptions about proper nutrition and exercise. Nutritionists from the Pediatric Fitness Clinic explore different myths and misconceptions, the truth behind them, and offer suggestions for what you can do instead.

Myth: If you’re healthy, it doesn't matter what you eat.

Truth: If you’re healthy you want to stay that way. What you put into your body matters, so take a timeout to think about how what you eat will affect you when you are older.

If you are fit and in good health, you want to stay that way. What you put into your body matters. Prevention is the best treatment. There are many diseases, like high blood pressure and diabetes, that we used to only see in older adults. These diseases are now seen in children. These illnesses often sneak up on a person because they are not like the flu, and often you don't have any early symptoms.

The good news is that people can prevent these types of diseases by eating well and exercising regularly. How you eat now will make a huge difference as you get older.

Try This Instead

  • Take a time out to think about how what you eat will affect you when you are older? Make one change at a time. Identify one habit that you want to make healthier and take small steps until you achieve it. For example, if you don't like water, make a plan to drink 1/2-cup water before every meal. Or, perhaps begin by watering down another beverage such as juice, until it is plain water.
  • Invite the whole family to get healthier. Choose one goal for the whole family, such as eating three vegetables per day and make it a competition.

Parental Advice

  • It is estimated that today's younger generations will be among the first to have shorter lifespans than their parents because of the lifestyle choices we make. Remember that showing them your love does not mean giving them treats and sugary snacks. It's not that kids can never have birthday cake, or a cookie. But help them understand it is a special treat.
  • Lead by example. Children learn by watching and mimicking behavior. Encourage family activities like going for a walk after dinner, or a hike through the woods, to help show that exercise isn't strictly treadmills or timed runs. Bad habits are hard to break. So help your kids start off on the right foot by encouraging habits that will benefit them for a lifetime.

"Children in Crisis"

In 2012, HBO aired a four-part documentary series about the obesity problem in the U.S. The third episode, "Children in Crisis," focused on families struggling with the issue, including two families from the UW Health Pediatric Fitness Clinic. The episode highlights the challenges facing families today from school lunches to marketing and advertising aimed at kids. Watch "Children in Crisis"