Last week we talked about small changes you could make for a healthier you. I had gathered some ideas from Jo-Ann Heslin, a registered dietitian. I have adapted some of her suggestions for small changes families with children can make to be healthier. What are some small changes you as a parent can make for a healthier child?
1. Eat together – in today’s go, go lifestyle so many families no longer eat together. At least a few times a week plan a family, sit-down meal together. Cornell University recommends eating together as a family at least 3 times a week. Family meals means a focus on the family, so turn off the TV, the cell phones and focus on the kids. According to Cornell University, (Do Famiy Meals Really Make a Difference?), family meals have huge health benefits:
a. Children are 24% more likely to eat healthier
b. Children are 12% less likely to be overweight
c. Children do better academicallyd. Children have more positive family interactions
2. 5 A Day – many children aren’t getting five servings of real fruits and vegetables a day. Sunny D and boxes of sugared drinks like Capri Sun juice drinks aren’t 100% juice and don’t count towards the 5 a day. At meals, especially lunch and dinner, aim for 2 fruits and vegetables. Make snacks of fruits or vegetables easy by having a fruit bowl on the counter, cut up vegetables ready to eat with some Ranch dressing.
3. Model Good Eating – a child that sees his mom or dad drinking milk with meals is more likely to drink milk with meals. Kids like to copy you so are you modeling good eating habits?
4. Breakfast every day – so many parents seem to forget kids need breakfast every day. Not a Pop-Tart, Sunny D breakfast, but one of real food. There are so many whole grain cereals to choose from, whole grain toast with peanut butter, milk, juice. Breakfast also has many health benefits:
a. Better academic performance in school
b. More energy to start the day off right
c. Improved concentration
d. More strength and endurance
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has great ideas on Easy Breakfasts for Kids to Make:
- Cheese slices on whole wheat toast, 100% juice
- Whole grain Cereals, milk, banana slices
- Peanut butter on whole grain toast, waffle, or rolled inside a wheat tortilla, tangerine
- Fruit – bananas, strawberries, raisins – instant oatmeal and milk
- Cold pizza
- Apple and cheese slices on graham crackers or whole wheat crackers
- Yogurt, fruit
So, what small changes can you make in your family to eat healthier? Small changes can add up to a healthier you and healthier kids.