Ready or not, another school year is in full swing. Now. You’re done shopping for new clothes, shoes, super hero backpacks, and necessary school supplies. You’ve taken all the kids for a haircut and talked with them through first day jitters. The back-to-school chaos is over; you can take a breather and consider these tips for keeping them healthy during the coming year. Parents can benefit, too!
- A healthy breakfast is fuel for your body, providing energy for the rest of the day.
- Serve a variety of foods to keep the kids’ appetites engaged, and each week consult with them on one meal. Eat together as often as possible.
- Eat slowly. Your brain takes 20 minutes to recognize you’re full.
- Eat regularly with variety. For instance: yogurt, a handful of fresh (or dried) fruits or vegetables like carrots and celery sticks, unsalted nuts or rice crackers, or bread with cheese.
- Fruits and vegetables are essential providers of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Set your goal at 5 servings per day. A glass of fruit juice at breakfast adds one serving of fruit. Choose an apple and banana as a snack. At meals, you should eat two vegetables.
- Eat at least 3 ounces of whole grains (oats, brown rice, rye, crackers, whole-wheat pasta) each day.
- Be good to yourself. Drink at least 5 glasses of fluids (water, low-fat or nonfat milk and low calorie or diet beverages) a day—half of your weight is water.
- Eating too much fatty food (fried potatoes, fried meats and sausages, pies and pastries) isn’t good for the body. It’s also smart to go easy on butter and margarines. And if you eat a high-fat lunch, then have a low-fat dinner, or vice versa.
Get active! Muscles and bones need to be kept moving. For a healthy heart and strong bones, you need physical activity. Try not to think of it as a chore. Staying active can be fun. Games like hopscotch, dodgeball, and football during breaks or recess give the body a workout. Swimming is great for staying healthy too! Parents, be active with your kids. Children and adolescents need an hour of physical activity each day. Start a running program with the kids and together set an obtainable goal—fun memories, bonding time, and exercise!
Basic Healthy Habits:
- Be sure to buckle up everyone, every time you venture out in a vehicle.
- Always, always, wear a helmet when riding a bike, skating, playing football, and other outdoor activities.
- Take care of your teeth. They are very important. Brush and floss!
- When washing hands, scrub with soap for 20 seconds, then rinse.
Once you’ve mastered a careful balance of the amounts and types of foods you eat, all the organs in the body will function smoothly, and the body will work as efficiently as a well-oiled machine. Add physical activity to this regimen, and you’ll be surprised at the results. You wouldn’t want your bike to rust from not being ridden. In the same way you won’t want your body to deteriorate from lack of activity.