Creating healthy habits now can last a lifetime

Healthy Habits MainMost experts (including the ones from Clinical Nutrition at Children’s) agree that cultivating healthy eating and exercise habits in children at an early age increases the chances that those habits will carry over into adulthood.

Though much is being done in our schools and communities to help support healthy lifestyles in children, parents and guardians have a unique opportunity to introduce and reinforce these principles at home through a few relatively simple techniques.

How can I get my kids involved?

Asking your children to help during the food buying and preparing process can help them feel more involved. Here are a few tips to make them a part of the action:

Did You Know?
Many supermarkets employ registered dietitians who lead supermarket tours and provide reliable nutritional information to shoppers – just ask at the customer service desk for more information.
  • Grocery shopping together is a great time to introduce children to different kinds of food. Encourage your children to explore the produce section and help them identify the various fruits and vegetables they find. Many supermarkets often have samples available, which will allow children to taste healthy options and discover new snacks they may have never tried before.
  • Invite your children into the kitchen to help you prepare family meals. In addition to teaching them life skills they will use later on (including cooking, math and motor skills), by participating in the cooking process, they will be more likely to try (and enjoy!) new dishes they’ve helped prepare.
  • Provide age-appropriate guidelines that allow children to select their own healthy meals and snacks. An easy way to do this is to use the “plate method” shown below.

 

The Plate Method

Plate Method Tips: Half of the plate should contain non-starchy vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach, carrots, broccoli, kale, collard greens, green beans, squash, etc.).
A quarter of the plate should contain starchy vegetables and/or grains (whole grain bread, couscous, rice, quinoa, cereal, potatoes, peas, corn, etc.).
The remaining quarter of the plate should contain lean protein (lean ground turkey, chicken or beef, fish or lean cuts of beef).
Just add a low-fat dairy and fruit option, and you’re good to go!

How can I model an active lifestyle?

Healthy Habits Bike RideAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children and adolescents should be active for at least 60 minutes each day. Of course, this doesn’t mean your child needs to hit the gym or find a personal
trainer. Go for a brisk walk, take a bike ride or shoot some hoops.

In addition to getting your exercise, you might find that this time spent being active with your children provides great opportunities to bond over a shared goal.

How much sleep is enough for my child?

Making sure your family gets enough sleep is also an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Well-rested children are typically happier and healthier as well.

  • Children in preschool need nine to 10 hours of sleep each night.
  • School-age children and adolescents should aim for eight to nine hours of sleep each night.

Leave us a comment to tell us which healthy habits work best for your family.

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