Health, Exercise and nutrition tips. It’s no surprise that parents might need some help understanding what it means to eat healthy. From the Food Guide Pyramid to the latest food fad, it can be awfully confusing.
The good news is that you don’t need a degree in nutrition to raise healthy kids. Following some basic guidelines can help you encourage your kids to eat right and maintain a healthy weight. Here are 10 key rules to live by and the five nutrition goals for Fitwize Kids.
To teach kids the importance of good nutrition and healthy eating habits. To empower kids to make wise food choices that will last them a lifetime.
Our approach to teaching nutrition is simple and fun — using hands-on, creative ways to stress the importance of eating healthy. We incorporate fun activities and interactive demonstrations that keep kids interested and involved.
Although weight is an issue, we do not put emphasis on weight or weight loss; nor do we place kids on diets. In fact, there is not a scale or mirror in sight. Instead, we instill healthy attitudes about food and promote a positive body image.
We teach them that through making good choices, eating healthy (most of the time!) and exercising, their bodies will naturally become healthy and strong. They will look and feel better about themselves. This in turn, helps them to accomplish more in school, on the playground, and at home.
Parents control the supply lines. You decide which foods to buy and when to serve them. Though kids will pester their parents for less nutritious foods, adults should be in charge when deciding which foods are regularly stocked in the house. Kids won’t go hungry. They’ll eat what’s available in the cupboard and fridge at home. If their favorite snack isn’t all that nutritious, you can still buy it once in a while so they don’t feel deprived.
From the foods you offer, kids get to choose what they will eat or whether to eat at all. Kids need to have some say in the matter. From the selections you offer, let them choose what to eat and how much of it they want. This may seem like a little too much freedom. But if you follow step 1, your kids will be choosing only from the foods you buy and serve.
Quit the “clean-plate club”. Let kids stop eating when they feel they’ve had enough. Lots of parents grew up under the clean-plate rule, but that approach doesn’t help kids listen to their own bodies when they feel full. When kids notice and respond to feelings of fullness, they’re less likely to overeat.
Start them young. Food preferences are developed early in life, so offer variety. Likes and dislikes begin forming even when kids are babies. You may need to serve a new food on several different occasions for a child to accept it. Don’t force a child to eat, but offer a few bites. With older kids, ask them to try one bite.
Rewrite the kids’ menu. Who says kids only want to eat hot dogs, pizza, burgers, and macaroni and cheese? When eating out, let your kids try new foods and they might surprise you with their willingness to experiment. You can start by letting them try a little of whatever you ordered or ordering an appetizer for them to try.
Drink calories count. Soda and other sweetened drinks add extra calories and get in the way of good nutrition. Water and milk are the best drinks for kids. Juice is fine when it’s 100%, but kids don’t need much of it — 4 to 6 ounces a day is enough for preschoolers.
Put sweets in their place. Occasional sweets are fine, but don’t turn dessert into the main reason for eating dinner. When dessert is the prize for eating dinner, kids naturally place more value on the cupcake than the broccoli. Try to stay neutral about foods.
Food is not love. Find better ways to say “I love you.” When foods are used to reward kids and show affection, they may start using food to cope with stress or other emotions. Offer hugs, praise, and attention instead of food treats.
Kids do as you do. Be a role model and eat healthy yourself. When trying to teach good eating habits, try to set the best example possible. Choose nutritious snacks, eat at the table, and don’t skip meals.
Limit TV and computer time. When you do, you’ll avoid mindless snacking and encourage activity. Research has shown that kids who cut down on TV-watching also reduced their percentage of body fat. When TV and computer time are limited, they’ll find more active things to do. And limiting “screen time” means you’ll have more time to be active together.
Eat Fruits, Vegetables and Whole Grains Every Day: You need to eat grains every day because they supply most of the energy your body uses. When we breathe, think, heal and grow, we are “spending” energy. Whole grains are “superior” to refined grains because they have more fiber, vitamins, minerals and healthy phytochemicals (or plant chemicals). Fruits and vegetables give us many vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fiber and phytochemicals. The nutrients from fruits and vegetables keep our skin, eyes and hair healthy. Aim for at least five fruits and vegetables every day.
Always Eat Breakfast: Everyone needs to eat breakfast every day! It keeps your mind sharp and fuels your body. Kids who eat breakfast every day do better in school and are able to maintain a healthy weight. Try to include a variety of foods. Traditional choices include eggs, whole grain toast, English muffins or bagels, cold or hot cereals with milk, or yogurt with fruit. Did you oversleep? Take some yogurt, a whole grain cereal bar or a peanut butter sandwich to-go.
Watch out for WHOA foods: “Go” (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, beans, tofu, and low fat dairy products) foods are the lowest in fat and added sugars; these can be eaten every day. “Slow” (refined grains, 100% juice, baked fries.) foods are higher in fat and added sugars than “Go” foods, but still lower than “WHOA” foods. You can eat “Slow” foods several times a week. “WHOA” (regular soda, fried foods, high-fat meats, whole milk, ice cream.) foods are the highest in added sugars and fats, and should be limited for rare occasions.
Limit non-homework screen time to 2 hours per day: The more time you spend playing videos, watching TV or surfing the net, the less time you have to do more active things, like come to Fitwize or play basketball. Time spent in front of the screen can lead to unhealthy weight gain, decrease your academic performance and is linked to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Sitting in front is also related to unhealthy snacking. Try to limit your non-homework screen time to 2 hours a day.
Be ACTIVE most days of the week: Find ways to be active every day. Exercising makes you stronger, healthier and smarter! Besides coming to Fitwize, make a list of favorite activities so you can refer to it when your 2 hour screen time is up. Include activities for the whole family!.
** check with your local participating Fitwize 4 Kids to see what programs are being offered in your area.