Friday, May 8, 2015

Healthy Eaters

With so many food options available in our communities, it's hard to know if our children are receiving proper nutrition for their growing minds and bodies. Healthy eating during early childhood helps kids become stronger, taller, and perform better in school. As kids grow into adults, healthy eating during childhood helps them become more intelligent and less likely to be obese. Obesity is now being labeled as an "epidemic" in the United States. What are some easy ways that parents can help their families be healthy?
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During meal and snack times:
  • Eat together as a family. Use this time to connect to your children and be a role model of good behavior and healthy eating
  • Prepare healthy foods and offer healthy choices at family meals
  • Serve fruits and vegetables for snacks
  • Save "treats" for special occasions to limit foods high in fat and sugars
  • Serve water instead of soda or sugar-sweetened drinks and make water easily available throughout the day
  • Switch to low or no-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese and choose lean cuts of meat
  • Bake or grill instead of fry
  • Switch to lower sugar breakfast cereals
  • Switch desserts like ice cream and cookies for fruit-based desserts

Help kids develop healthy habits:
  • Use smaller plates for kids; they need less food than adults
  • Don't force kids to clean their plates if they are full
  • Start with a small portion; children can have seconds if they are still hungry
  • Don't give up on new, healthy foods; use patience and let them see you eat it so they want to imitate you
  • Plan to avoid fast food by keeping healthy foods in the car, like dried fruit, applesauce, nuts, and whole grain crackers
  • When you do eat out, check the menu options beforehand and choose meals that have fewer calories (for example, are not fried or smothered in cheese or other sauces)
  • Limit TV and computer time to 1-2 hours per day at home, school, or child care
  • Encourage physical activity every day

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There are several great resources available online with additional tips to help keep families healthy. Here are a few sites that offer great suggestions about healthy eating and physical activity for children and families:

http://www.eatright.org/
http://www.letsmove.gov/
http://www.choosemyplate.gov/

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