Every Kid Healthy Week, celebrated the last week in April, is an annual observance created to celebrate school health and wellness achievements. While typically celebrated in schools, everyone can do their part in teaching children healthy habits! Whether you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, teacher or babysitter, here are a few ways to promote healthy lifestyles and choices in kids.
Don’t Ban Junk Food
At least, don’t ban it completely. Teach your children that these foods are okay in moderation, but present them with healthy snacks as a first option. Avoid restricting desserts as a punishment or using unhealthy food as a reward.
Encourage Healthy Choices
Your child is empowered to make their own choices at school when choosing their lunch. Give them the knowledge they need to make healthy choices. Tell them the benefits of picking vegetables over macaroni and cheese or an apple over chips. These small choices can add up over time.
Avoid Buying Unhealthy Food in Bulk
While bulk junk food may be cheaper, it can encourage unhealthy eating habits. The more that your child has access to junk food, the more likely they are to choose it over a healthy option. Consider purchasing a bunch of bananas or a bag of apples or carrots for snacks. By instilling these habits early on, your child will develop healthy habits for the future.
Don’t Let Them Drink Their Calories
Liquid calories, such as those in soda or even juice, can add up quickly. When people eat calories in the form of solid food, they naturally compensate by reducing the rest of their food intake. But when people ingest liquid calories, they don’t feel that naturally full feeling and will eat in addition to the calories consumed in liquid form—potentially doubling their caloric intake for that meal. Teach your children to drink water or milk with their meals and eat the calories their bodies need.
Promote Fruits and Veggies at Dinner
Eating dinner together is important for more than just family bonding time. Not only does it develop communication skills, it can instill healthy eating habits. When a child sees their family members eating and enjoying healthy foods, it can go a long way to helping them venture out of their food comfort zone. If you have a picky eater, look for recipes that hide vegetables in other foods.
Practice Portion Control
Many children today suffer from “portion distortion” and have a hard time telling when they have eaten enough. Eatright.org has developed a handy portion visualizer to help both you and your child measure out the correct portions of foods. This chart uses everyday objects to measure out portions, meaning that you don’t need to break out the measuring cups. Talk to your child about why portion control is an important part of eating healthy.
Kids who are active:
- have stronger muscles and bones
- have a leaner body
- be less likely to become overweight
- decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels
- have a better outlook on life
Encourage your children to do a variety of activities to keep them entertained and work on various skills. Riding bikes around the neighborhood, playing tag with friends or a pickup game of basketball can all be beneficial forms of exercise.
Book a Doctor Appointment
One key to healthy living is preventative doctor visits. If your child has not had an annual physical, now is a great time to get one! To make an appointment, call 434-818-7880. We also accept walk-ins!
While Every Kid Healthy week is a great time to begin these habits, don’t stop there! Making small changes over a long period of time can be more effective and more likely to stick than changing multiple things at once. If you have any questions about making healthier choices for your family, we would be happy to talk.