Parents in Action: Healthy habits for kids

Parents are always trying to find new ways to teach kids to lead healthy lives.

But with everyone's busy schedules, making healthier choices can often take a backseat to convenience.

Although it can be hard, inspiring kids to be healthy will not only prevent them from getting sick, but will help them do better in school.

Carefully managing a child's diet seems like a daunting task, but it's as simple as making a commitment to eating at home more often. Encouraging kids to help with grocery shopping and meal preparation will help teach them about what are healthy options as well as keep everyone on track. The goal is to keep food selections low in fat, sodium and carbohydrates and rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Lean protein should be a staple of every growing child's diet.

Also eating meals as a family requires some planning of schedules, but it's well worth the effort. According to a University of Michigan study, high schoolers that ate meals with their families were less likely to use illicit drugs.

Being healthy starts at home with mom and dad leading the way. Here are three ways parents and kids can make 2013 the healthiest year yet.

Here are some more healthy eating tips from Dr. Sejal Shah.

1. It's very important to set a good example with food in front of your children. Don't use unhealthy foods as rewards. Share facts about fruits and vegetables, like oranges have vitamin C and that means they help the body fight off colds and sickness. Explain why unhealthy foods are not good for them and encourage moderation. And make eating different colored foods fun like trying to eat the rainbow. Make a game out of healthy foods.

2. Depending on a child's age they, should get anywhere from 90 to 120 minutes of physical activity every day. Since parents cannot depend of P.E. in school to provide the adequate amount of physical exercise anymore, there are a number of ways families can stay active together. Try incorporating physical activity into the daily routine, like an after-dinner walk, daily family bike ride or an afterschool activity like softball or karate. The first big step to achieving daily exercise is limiting the amount of time doing sedentary activities like watching T.V. or being on the computer.

3. As well as causing less focus in school, lack of sleep can cause weight gain in children, which is why it's no less important than food or exercise. Just like weightlifting is important for muscle growth, sleeping is important for brain development in children.

If a parent or child is finding it difficult to get to bed at night try implementing a quiet down period where all electronics get turned off, everyone quiets down and begins to get ready for bed. Having a period of time where kids can calm down and relax before bed will help them fall asleep faster once bedtime comes around and allow them to get the right amount of nightly rest.

Remember that being a good role model is the best way to teach kids healthy habits. Although you may find it difficult at times, remember that healthy kids are more likely to become healthy adults.


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