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Promoting a Healthy Lifestyle for our Children - 2023 Goals!

Promoting a Healthy Lifestyle for our Children

 2023 Goals!

Parents play a key role in helping their children maintain a healthy lifestyle. Healthy living is making smart health choices today and every day.  Some of the key components of a healthy lifestyle is prioritizing exercise and a well-balanced diet.

An Active Lifestyle

Exercise is vital to the health and well-being of children. Physical activity helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints.  Exercise will help keep a healthy body mass index and reduce the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Exercise reduces anxiety and helps children sleep well.

Beyond the benefits to the body, physical activity also boosts a child's mental and behavioral health. It increases a child's enthusiasm and optimism and boosts self-esteem, school performance, attention, and behavior.  It fosters teamwork and friendship when it is part of an organized sport.

Parents can play a key role in helping their child become physically active.

*Keep exercise a priority. Limit screen time, including time spent on TV, videos, computers, and video games. Use the free time for physical activities.

*Help your child find a sport they enjoy. The more they enjoy the activity, the more likely they will be to continue it.

*Plan a convenient time and place to exercise.

*Young children should have easy access to balls, jump ropes, and other active toys.

*Children who see their parents’ enjoying sports and physical activity are more likely to do so themselves.

*Have fun with exercise by spending time together.  Go for a walk, hike, or bike ride.

Eating Healthy

The right nutrition is necessary to live a healthy lifestyle. Our body requires a well-balanced diet every day in order to maintain the adequate amounts of vitamins, nutrients and minerals needed to maintain a healthy body.

Involve your child in Mealtime.

Studies have demonstrated that children who are involved in home meal preparation chose fruits and vegetables more often than their non-cooking peers.  Encouraging our children to be involved in home meal preparation is an effective health promotion strategy.

Learning how to cook and prepare foods is the way we ensure our children are not depending on processed foods for their meals.  Processed food consumption is associated with an increased risk of cancer, unhealthy levels of added sugar, sodium and fat, minimal nutritional value, artificial ingredients, and excessive and unneeded calories. Preparing meals with your children is an easy way to get them making healthier food choices while allowing you to bond as a family.

Offer food in a variety of ways and keep preparing healthy foods despite initial protest. The key to establishing new habits is to stick with it. Even if a food item does not appeal to you at first, try it a few times in a variety of ways before giving up on it. Exposing our children to different health options until we find something they like. There are hundreds of ways to prepare foods!  If your child does not like raw carrots, try steaming, roasting, juicing, or making muffins. Don’t give up until you find a version they like.

As parents, we can help our children associate healthy foods with togetherness and positivity. Eat dinner as a family, play music, set the table, and create a relaxed atmosphere.  Remember to have a no television, no tablet, or phone rule at the table.

In a recent survey, children were asked when they were most likely to talk with their parents: dinner was their top answer.   The impact of family meals goes beyond physical health. Children who eat dinner with their parents experience less stress and stronger relationships.

What is a Healthy Diet?

A healthy diet is key to making sure your children get the nutrients they need. In general, you want a low-calorie diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, protein, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. A good way to do this is to pick foods by their natural color. By getting a variety of colors on your child’s plate, you can help them get the nutrition they need.

Another good guideline is to make half of each plate fruits and veggies with the other half consisting of protein or whole grains.

Limit Sugar

As you focus on nutrients, it will be important to limit sweets. That means cutting out foods with added sugars of any kind. Replacing sweet treats with fruit can help, as can encouraging your kids to drink water, milk, or 100% juice instead of drinks with added sweeteners.

Children under 2 should have no added sugars in their food or drinks, and older children are best served if sugar-added foods are kept to under 10% of their diet.

Whatever the age or fitness level, it is never too late to start thinking about a healthy lifestyle.

Improvements do not have to be large steps; take one small step for your health today, keep that one going, and add another and another. Have a plan – take the step.

“Wellness encompasses a healthy body, a sound mind, and a tranquil spirit. Enjoy the journey as you strive for wellness.”
- Laurette Gagnon Beaulieu

As always, our staff at Healthy Kids Care at Sunrise are available to answer any questions or concerns.

In Health,

Dr. Atousa

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