|Easy Healthy Eating and Fitness Tips||| Print ||
|Written by Michelle Mirizzi, M.S., Registered Dietitian|
|Tuesday, 01 June 2010 08:53|
March has been declared National Nutrition Month® by the American Dietetic Association, so I can't think of a better time to talk about ways to improve your child's lifestyle and eating habits. We all know that a banana is a healthier snack than a bag of potato chips and that playing outside is better than sitting on the couch watching television. But, sometimes making those choices is not so easy. Forming new healthy habits takes time and practice, but it can be done! The key to keeping children involved is by making eating and exercising a family activity.
Eat Together As a Family:
Make mealtimes a family event by sitting down at the table together for at least one meal a day. If dinner time is too busy with activities, try starting the day by eating breakfast together. Ideally, mealtimes should be a pleasurable experience that allows your child to try new foods and to learn good eating habits from their parents. Siblings can also be a great role model during mealtime. Most children have definite food likes and dislikes. However, parents should still encourage trying new foods during mealtime. Provide a small quantity of the new food so that your child does not feel pressured and begins to accept the new food.
Do you remember the clean plate club? Try not to expect your child to eat everything on his or her plate. Instead let your child choose their own portion size, provided that the food is nutritious. Children need to learn to pace themselves and become aware that they are full. Don't take it personally, leaving food on the plate does not mean your child is not thankful for a good meal. Remember that they will have another meal again and it is better to save the leftovers for another meal than overeat and risk becoming overweight.
Make Mealtimes a Routine:
Get your child involved in cooking and planning family meals. Take your child with you to the grocery store and spend some time reading nutrition labels and comparing products.
Eat around a table. It's easier to talk to each other when you are face to face.
Set a time for family meals. That way your child knows that, for example, dinner is at 6:00pm or breakfast is at 7:30am each day.
During mealtime, focus on each other by turning off the TV and letting the answering machine pick up the phone.
Talk to your child about their day or something enjoyable. Mealtime is not the time for complaining or lecturing about lost homework.
While children need to mind their manners at the table, try not to pester them.
Keep meals from lasting too long. If your child gets fussy, let them be excused and take their plate to the sink.
Offer fresh fruit for dessert - not as a reward, rather as a great way to finish the meal.
How Much Should My Child Eat?
The exact amount of calories and servings your child needs will depend on his or her gender, age and how active they are each day. Children who are more active burn more calories, so they can eat more without gaining weight.
The USDA's food guide pyramid, also known as "mypyramid" is a simple outline showing how much food to eat from each of the food groups. A rainbow of colored, vertical stripes represents the five food groups plus fats and oils.
MyPryamid has food organized into five main groups:
Grains, Breads and Cereals group; provides fiber and B vitamins which help digestion and carbohydrates which provide energy
Meat, Beans and Nuts group; provides protein to help build muscles and a strong immune system
Vegetables group; provides Vitamin A which helps maintain healthy skin and good eyesight
Fruits group; provides vitamin C, vitamin A and fiber which helps to heal wounds as well as aid in digestion
Milk and Milk Products group; provides the majority of calcium for the development of strong bones and teeth
Make Healthy Snacks An Easy Choice:
Keep healthy snacks on hand for your child to eat between meals. A growing child can not get all the nutrients and calories from just three meals a day. Healthy snacks will also help your child eat the recommended minimum amount of at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. However, don't expect children to cut up their own fruits and vegetables! When children are hungry they don't want to wait. Prepare snacks in advance and have them easy to reach. Good snack choices are planned, small and well-balanced. They should contain small amounts of carbohydrates, protein and fat.
Some ideas include:
Fruits and nuts
Low-fat yogurt and fresh fruit
Peanut butter and celery
Whole grain crackers and cheese
Bowl of whole grain cereal and low fat milk
String cheese and crackers
Turkey sandwich on a piece of whole wheat bread
Cottage cheese and fruit
Keeping Your Child Active:
Children need to be active for 60 minutes on most days of the week to maintain good health and fitness. This doesn't mean that children need to be in an organized sport to be active. Simply spend less time in front of the television or computer and more time doing daily activities like walking, using stairs or playing outside. Recent studies show that participation in team sports declines as children get older. The effects of long term inactivity can put children at risk for obesity, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Once again, children mimic what their parents and older siblings do, so make a conscious choice to be active yourself!
Finally, have a heart-to-heart talk with your child this month about the importance of eating well and being active. Always try to be supportive and celebrate successes that your child achieves. Most importantly, let your child know that you love them and that you want to help them have a happy and healthy life!
This family wellness article is provided by Nourish Interactive, visitwww.nourishinteractive.com for nutrition articles, family wellness tips, free children's healthy games, and tools. Available in English and Spanish.
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|Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 July 2010 10:03|