Top Ten “Musts” for Raising a Healthy Child :
Use the following guidelines in your nutrition parenting. Take each one of these tips seriously, and introduce them as early as you possibly can in your child’s life. There are plenty of wonderful food choices to be made, and lots of opportunities to teach moderation, too.
Number 1: Be the Very Best Role Model You Can Be :
You may opt not to smoke or drink in front of your kids anymore, to discourage them from taking up these habits; so, do not load up on cheeseburgers and French fries from your local fast food restaurant three times a week either. Is there any bet- ter way for a child to learn what is acceptable or appropriate behavior than what they see at home? What if you really would like a doughnut before bed every night, however? Please wait until your child goes to bed first!
Number 2: Physical Activity Is Non-Negotiable :
Forty percent of high schoolers spend three or more hours a day watching tele- vision or on their computers/phones/iPods, and at least 10 percent of children are completely sedentary, without any form of even moderate exercise. This has been ahuge disaster for children, contributing to a generation of ill young people. Kids don’t have to be marathon runners, but a team sport is wonderful for their physical bodies, their emotional well-being, their self-confidence levels, and establishing a habit of enjoying movement. Find them something early on in their lives that they will create a passion for—ice skating, dance classes, jump rope team, basketball, lacrosse, swimming, track and field, anything your child can feel good about partic- ipating in. Additionally, include regular activity with the children as a family, as soon as their little legs can move—bike ride together, play tennis, walk on the beach, snow ski—again, a message to the children that being physical will keep that heart of theirs strong, forever.
Number 3: Build in a Nutrition and Eating Structure Early :
Do not allow eating as a type of “sport” in your home. Teach that there are appropriate eating times—breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. As the children grow into their older teenage years, they may not need as many snacks as when they were going through their growth spurts. Curb those snacks in an effort to de- crease the risk of overweight and obesity. Exception: teenage athletes, who need the additional calories, protein, and carbohydrates to perform.
It is so important that after-school athletes take in a hearty snack before their game or workout. Each snack should contain a healthy carbohydrate and a source of protein, so their high energy lasts them for several hours: for example, a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of milk.
Number 4: Your Home Has to Be a Healthy Haven, Forever :
What foodstuffs you bring into your home is the greatest message to your chil- dren. This does not mean that your favorites (or theirs) cannot appear in the kitchen pantry; however, the unhealthy favorites must be kept to a minimum. Teaching the art of discipline and self-control is absolutely critical. It is your job, as the parent, to initiate this concept, completely, and early.
Number 5: Teach Children Nutrition Independence :
Give them options, within reason, and allow them to make their own deci- sions—on how much they would like to eat, whether they want to eat or not, and what they would like to have (knowing you have provided the acceptable healthy options). For example, keep them in the loop of what you are thinking of making for dinner—“Lisa, would you like to have pasta and meatballs, or chicken and a baked potato?” Allow them to assist in the decision-making process. When dis- cussing how much they should eat during dinner, serve them a reasonable portion; if they claim they are still “hungry” after they are through, ask them to wait five to ten minutes, and if they continue to feel hunger, then they can have a second por- tion. These are fantastic behaviors, that when taught properly, teach brilliant self- confidence, self-control, and self-sufficiency.
Number 6: Never Lower the Bar :
From the time children are babies, stick to healthful eating habits. Never let there be a time in which you throw in the towel and stock the house with our fat- tening favorites! If this is all your children know from a young age, they will not ex- pect any different. Is it okay to have the occasional fast food meal? Sure. To share desserts in a restaurant? Absolutely. To eat Halloween candy? Why not (somewhat monitored, of course)? Please teach your child the healthy way, no matter what it takes.
Number 7: Take Your Children under Your Wing in the Grocery Store :
Make the children a part of their own food lives. Allow them to pick and choose some items in the grocery store. Teach them while you are there, as they become old enough, to read a food label and ingredient list, and become familiar with what they are putting into their bodies. Remember to avoid high amounts of sugar and saturated fats, and to avoid the trans fats (partially hydrogenated vegetable oils) at all times. Look for foods, cereals, and breads that are higher in fiber, to ensure their intestinal health, promote heart health, and decrease their cancer risk. At about the age of six, arteries begin to clog, especially when the high-fat, high-sugar foods arrive. According to the current research, early inflam- mation of the arteries from the high-fat food intake and possible dilation of the arteries from the high sugar intake is so very dangerous later in life.
Number 8: Talk to Your Children about Their Growing Bodies :
You want your children to realize not only the significance of maintaining a healthy weight, but to learn their responsible part in preserving their healthy bod- ies, forever. Teach the kids what they truly are in control of. Obviously, their genes are their genes, however, there is so much they (and you) can do to be sure that they sustain their good health. Most importantly, afford them the high self-esteem and good feelings about themselves that they so deserve.
Number 9: Do Not Allow Your Children to Skip Meals :
Recent studies promote the concept of “a one-letter-grade increase” in math, just by eating a healthful breakfast. In today’s world, there may be limited time in the morning to have your child sit and eat scrambled eggs, English muffin, and fruit salad. But, everyone needs to find the time to eat some form of breakfast that includes a source of protein and healthy carbohydrate such as low-fat, low-sugar chocolate milk and a raisin bran muffin, or a container of yogurt and some whole wheat crackers, or cereal and milk, or a sandwich, or even a hard-boiled egg and a pita. Even if you have to eat breakfast on the run (or in the car) you, and your chil- dren need to eat it. Do whatever you must to get in that first meal of the day. Remember, just as adults feel weak and irritable after too many hours without food, kids are the same, if not worse, as their blood sugars begin to drop, and they still need to concentrate in school, or on homework, later in the day. “Children’s menus” are generally filled with unhealthy choices. Take a look at the kid’s menu when you go out to your next restaurant. Certainly, they are filled with the kids’ favorites, but macaroni and cheese, pizza, chicken fin- gers, cheeseburgers, and corn dogs are far from the choices you want your children to make. So skip the children’s menus in a restaurant.
Number 10: Teach Sensible Eating Behaviors in a Moderate Way :
Before you know it, your toddler daughter is at a birthday party every weekend, your husband is taking your preadolescent son to the NBA basketball arena, and your children are vacationing with you on a cruise during the holiday break. Do you abandon your healthy habits during any or all of these events? No! Fun events like these come so often you’d never get back on track!