Healthy habits for the entire family
Parenting in the year 2013 has its challenges. I understand these challenges and pressures being the parent of two children going into third and seventh grade myself. As parents, we are constantly bombarded with messages about our children: encourage them to be the best and greatest, feed them right, make sure they are active, be sure to get in the required amount of reading minutes, practice math facts, involve them in sports, take them to music lessons, make sure they are well rounded, and the list goes on and on. As a pediatric registered dietitian, I try my best to focus on role modeling a healthy lifestyle for my family so we have the energy to tackle everything we need to accomplish, and that includes Fueling Up our bodies to Play 60 minutes every day.
I feel that it is important for children to learn about balanced nutrition at home. The messages they receive in the media can be confusing and negative – don’t eat this, you should weigh that, the latest way to lose weight, make sure you are buff and ripped, this beverage will make you fit, etc., etc. Nutrition messages should be positive about getting all the food your body needs every day and highlight the great qualities these foods have to offer. As adults, we need to model the behaviors we would like our children to have (yes that may mean expanding our own horizons – I have even learned to tolerate raw tomatoes since becoming a mom). It really helps to involve your family in the process. Here are a few quick tips to make food fun:
- Focus on a new food group/cuisine/color each week.
- Have your children:
- Decide what new food to try each day based on the weekly theme.
- Create decorations based on the weekly theme.
- Help purchase and prepare the new food. (When children help cook they are more likely to try new items.)
- Grow their own fruits and vegetables or check out your local farmers market or u-pick farm.
- Take a tour of a local dairy farm.
- Taking a walk or jog together. My family has decided to make it our goal to complete a local 5K this summer.
- Turning up the music and having a crazy dance party. What better way to laugh and be silly together.
- Combining learning and activity together into Math Hopscotch. Instead of the usual 1-10 in the squares, make up other numbers and have your child come up with a math fact (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) for that number.
- Participating in the 6 week Presidential Fitness Challenge as a family. For more information go to http://www.fitness.gov