Its the New Year! Many of you parents may be creating New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier and exercise more for yourself, but what about your kids? This is a perfect time for the WHOLE family to work on these goals to help promote family health and to improve the chances of success for everyone. The following are a few healthy eating strategies for children (and adults):
1. Eat 5 serving of fruits/vegetables every day. We all know this, we need to just plan ahead and do it! Keep a bowl of fruit on the kitchen table for easy access and promote these items as snacks rather than “junk food”.
2. Make sure to mix protein with complex carbohydrates at all snacks/meals. This prevents blood sugar swings and either crankiness or hunger later. Examples of this includes peanut butter toast, apple with a cheese stick, low fat milk with graham crackers, celery with peanut butter or cheese, trail mix with dried fruit/nuts, low fat yogurt with granola and/or fruit, whole grain cereal with milk, turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread, etc.
4. Only drink water or low fat milk. Eliminate sodas, and limit juice to splashes of 100% juices added to a full glass of water. It may take a while to change your child’s need to drink sugary drinks, so just gradually add more and more water to their drinks.
5. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Again, make sure it is a healthy meal consisting of a complex carbohydrate and protein. NO SIMPLE SWEETS! For example, less desirable choices include toaster pastries, muffins, sugary cereal, and donuts. Better ideas of quick breakfasts include whole grain cereal and milk, yogurt with granola/fruit, a cheese stick with a piece of fresh fruit, peanut butter toast, sausage biscuit, etc. Most of these items can even be grabbed while heading out the door and eaten in the car!
6. MOVE YOUR BODY! Yes, the weather is cold outside, but it is still important for the family to move together. Reduce the TV/video game time and MOVE! Consider imagining you are animals (bear walking, crab walking, crawling like puppies, etc), pillow fights, in door obstacle courses, or moving-your-body video games. You can simply turn on some music and just dance!
For more information on creating healthy families, please visit myplate.gov