Last night I spoke in my home town to local parents about establishing healthy habits for themselves and their kids. I created a list of 10 best practices toward healthy living. I know even the best intended parents, myself included, occasionally need a healthy ‘re-boot’ to realign our lives into a more healthier paradigm. Life is certainly busier these days and it sure is easy to get on an unhealthy path. Here’s a sneak peek of my 10 best practices:
1.) Make Movement a Priority! Kids need a minimum of 60 minutes of exercise per day. Find seasonal activities to move as a family such as: bike riding, playing hoops, touch football, skating, sledding, etc.
2.) Create a weekly Grocery List AND menu plan! Start your grocery list with 5 menu plans for that week. That way, if you plan on making a Taco Salad for Monday’s dinner, you will have all the ingredients you need on hand.
3.) Balance your PLATE! Every meal should include colorful produce, protein, carbs with fiber, and healthy fats. For example: Breakfast could be Greek yogurt (protein) with granola (carb with fiber), blueberries (produce) and sliced almonds. YUM! Every snack should include a fruit or vegetable! A balanced plate creates a balanced person!
4.) Manage your Environment: Kids will eat what you bring home! If you bring home junk they will eat junk! Limit treats and load up on the nutritious tasty foods you know they love. If baking cookies, freeze half the dough so the impulse to eat ALL the cookies is eliminated.
5.) Try NEW foods! Most kids are uncomfortable with change and this includes new foods. The more you introduce the foods, the more likely they will try them! Instead of saying, “Eat this! It is good for you,” say, “This tastes so good, you should try it!”
6.) Minimize exposure to the toxic food environment! Try to purchase organically and minimize exposure to plastics with BHA. Purchase stainless steel water bottles or BHA free for use to tote your water. Limit intake of the “dirty dozen”, the 12 most pesticide rich produce or purchase them in organic form! The dirty dozen includes: Celery, Peaches, Strawberries, Apples, Blueberries, Nectarines, Bell Peppers, Spinach, Cherries, Kale/Collard Greens, Potatoes and Imported Grapes. (foodnews.org)
7.) Go Against the Grain! Americans consume far too much wheat and corn! Try alternative grains such as: quinoa, millet, oats. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) produced from corn has infiltrated our food supply and is linked with fatty liver disease. HFCS consumption has risen 1000% in the past 30 years! Ouch!
8.) Avoid Fast Food temptations with the busy sports season! Pre-plan your meals on busy nights! Perhaps, dust off the slow cooker and create fun family meals that will be warm and ready to go when you arrive home after the little league game!
9.) Help your child identify hunger vs. boredom! To determine if hungry, ask your child if an apple or carrots would do? If they are interested in eating carrots they likely are hungry. Sometimes it’s more of a desire for cookies or an activity to engage in because they are not quite sure how to spend their time. Try to steer them in the direction of an activity rather than quelling them with food. Bear in mind, kids do go through growth spurts and sometimes they simply just need to eat more during this time!
10.) Create a healthy home environment where nourishing foods taste good and are enjoyed together! Eating a meal together has SO many health benefits! Studies have shown that kids that eat with their family have better grades, less depression, less likely to use drugs, eat a healthier diet including more: iron, fiber, calcium, Vitamins C and E.