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By: William G. Rohrer Center for HealthFitness Staff
The first Monday in October is observed as Child Health Day. This day focuses on the health of children and raises awareness of what parents and guardians can do to improve the health of their children. Many schools, hospitals and government agencies observe the day with special programs on healthy eating and exercise. Here are steps you can take year-round to ensure your child develops healthy habits.
Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle
If your children recognize that you are trying to live a healthy lifestyle they will follow your example. Teaching your children about the importance of a healthy diet and exercise helps them to form healthy habits for the rest of their lives. Healthy habits also reinforce a positive self-image. The American Heart Association advises parents to “celebrate successes and help children and teens develop a good self-image” (Association, 2016).
Provide a Balanced Diet
Regular mealtimes are a good routine to establish for children. A healthy breakfast gives your children energy and keeps them strong (Madell, 2016). Pack healthy lunches for school and make dinnertime family time. Get your kids involved in meal planning and prep so that they can learn firsthand which type of foods to select. Hydrate your children with water or 100 percent juice without added sugars. The Mayo Clinic has several recommendations for protein, fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy intake. For protein “choose seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans, peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds (Staff, 2016). For fruits choose “fresh, canned, frozen or dried fruits” (Staff, 2016). For veggies “serve a variety of fresh, canned, frozen or dried vegetables” (Staff, 2016). For grains choose “whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, popcorn, quinoa, or brown or wild rice” (Staff, 2016). For dairy “drink fat-free or low-fat dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese or fortified soy beverages” (Staff, 2016).
Encourage your children to be active outdoors and participate in sports they enjoy. Take walks, ride bikes, go swimming, garden or just play hide-and-seek outside (Association, 2016). Set limits to television, video game and computer time. The American Heart Association suggest that screen time should be no more than 2 hours a day as “these habits lead to a sedentary lifestyle and excessive snacking, which increase risks for obesity and cardiovascular disease” (Association, 2016). Make exercise fun by taking advantage of the children programs and activities at the Center specifically designed for their age.
Good habits start early; these steps can have lifelong benefits for your children.
Association, A. H. (2016, July 22). Top 10 Tips to Help Children Develop Healthy Habits. Retrieved from American Heart Association : https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyKids/HowtoMakeaHealthyHome/Top-10-Tips-to-Help-Children-Develop-Healthy-Habits_UCM_303805_Article.jsp#.V9FaReRTGM-
Madell, R. (2016, July 21). 10 Healthy Habits Parents Should Teach Their Kids. Retrieved from Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/healthy-habits-mothers-should-teach-kids#8
Staff, M. C. (2016, January 16). Nutrition for kids: Guidelines for a healthy diet. Retrieved from Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/nutrition-for-kids/art-20049335
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