Parents want their children to become healthy adults. Most obese adults tended to be obese or overweight children. The toddler and preschool years are the critical times for teaching health habits that will shape the rest of their lives. Although young children will not understand the words, there are a few basic areas that parents need to focus on to teach healthy life long habits. Here are some as suggested in part in HealthNewsDigest.
Understand your body. Body awareness goes beyond head, shoulders, knees and toes. A healthy diet grows a strong body. A strong body has stronger naturally immunity. A strong body fights off illness easier than a weak body. This can mean fewer colds and other illnesses during school years and beyond.
Children with a healthy body tend to keep a high school attendance rate.They not only learn more, they prevent parents from having to take days off from work to care for them. Parents will have a positive work record, consistent pay, and may be more likely to be promoted since they may be viewed as reliable workers. Job advancement can mean a higher standard of living for a family.
Better school attendance means children learn more which can increase their chances of acceptance to their desired college or training program. High academic marks can mean scholarship awards. A good school attendance record can be a positive asset to promote during job interviews, too.
Healthy foods grow a healthy body. Teaching toddlers and preschools healthy food selections set a pattern for life. Fruits and vegetables are critical to maintaining a healthy diet. A healthy diet consists of 4-5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Explain to young children that fruits and veggies make a strong body.
Shop with preschoolers. Teach vocabulary (names of produce and the category), colors (name 3 red fruits and veggies), shapes (round, oval, long, thin), smells and tastes ( tangy, sweet, sour), size comparisons (a grape is a little ball, a cantaloupe is a big ball). There is year round access to hundreds of foods from around the world. The internet is a couple clicks away to ethnic recipes. Teach kids to try many different healthy foods.
Not only will kids learn about cultures and foods variety, they will lean to discriminate between healthy and unhealthy food choices. Eating a variety of foods in moderation gives a body a healthy platform from which to grow. Don’t always eliminate sweet or salty foods (soda, chips), just limit them or allow kids to taste them and explain why they are infrequently eaten by healthy people.
Teach kids to monitor eating habits. Over eating can produce obesity. Teach children portion sizes correct for their age, and help them select foods from the different food groups at each meal. Keep healthy snack choices (fruit, whole grains) available at home and when kids are out they will also chose them.
One of the hardest times to help kids eat healthy is in restaurants, Fat laden selections such as hot dogs and macaroni and cheese often appear on kids’ menus. Ask if restaurants can make a lunch portion of a healthier adult meal such as a salad, or grill a chicken breast with no added salt. Ask for a serving of applesauce instead of fries, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers instead of potato salad, and steamed vegetables instead of mashed potatoes with butter and gravy or fries. Set a good example as parents with similar choices. Check out this app for your phone to help select healthy choices.
Setting the tone for good food choices in any setting helps kids become self-reliant and responsible at early ages. Kids who make responsible food choices become self-confident when they realize they are helping themselves grow positively. Positive emotional health helps kids become upbeat adults, able to cope with life’s changes and challenges. Healthy kids tend to be more even tempered, keeping a home a positive environment for love and learning.
Emotionally stable kids tend to avoid chemical or artificial means to obtain a “feel good” status. Healthy kids are less likely to experiment with drugs, alcohol, tobacco and other destructive substances than ones without a high level of emotional well-being.
Teach physical activity as a part of a healthy lifestyle. Gym class in school a couple times a week does not compensate for lack of physical activity the rest of the day. Let’s Move recommends at least an hour of moderate physical activity per day for kids. This can be broken into 2-3 activities at various times. Different activities use different muscle groups, so vary bike riding with shooting hoops, walking, or swimming. Vary sports with seasons. For toddlers, walk, run, kick a ball, join a gymnastics class, or climb the monkey bars.
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