Taking care of our bodies; Eating healthy foods
One way to stay healthy is to watch what we eat. Children should eat lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains every day. Sugar, candy, fatty and processed foods should be limited. Making good food choices is key to your child’s health and well-being.
Help your child eat right
The keys to healthy eating are variety, balance and moderation. Be sure your family eats a variety of foods, including plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grain products. Also include low-fat and nonfat dairy products, lean meats, poultry, fish and legumes (lentils and beans). Drink water to quench your thirst, and go easy on the salt, sugar and saturated fat.
Good nutrition should be part of an overall healthy lifestyle that also includes regular physical activity. To maintain weight, both children and adults must balance the calories they eat with the calories they burn through physical activity. If you eat more calories than you use up in physical activity, you gain weight. If you eat fewer calories than you use up, you lose weight. Make a commitment to helping your family eat sensibly and move more often.
Here are some tips for healthy eating to help you get started.
- Try to keep track of your children’s meal/snack and physical activity patterns so you can help them balance the amount and types of food they eat with the amount of physical activity they perform.
- Encourage your family to eat at least 5 servings of brightly colored vegetables and fruits a day.
- Leave the candy, soft drinks, chips and cookies at the store. Substitute them with fruits, vegetables, nuts, and low-fat or nonfat milk products. Your child will soon learn to make smart food choices outside your home as well.
- Serve children child-sized portions, and let your child ask for more if still hungry. Don’t force children to clean their plates. Try measuring food items to learn to estimate the amount of food on a plate.
- Choose a variety of foods. No single food or food group supplies all the nutrients in the amounts that you need for good health. If you plan for pizza one night, balance your meal with salad, low-fat or nonfat milk and fruit.
Family meal time
Sharing meals is an ideal way for the family to spend time together. Whether you’re eating at home or eating out on the go, it’s important to eat smart.
- Be consistent. Establish a family meal routine, and set times for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Eat together whenever possible.
- Take charge of the foods your children eat. When you serve a meal, your child can choose to eat it or not; but don’t offer to substitute an unhealthy alternative when your child refuses to eat what you’ve served.
- Restrict children’s access to the refrigerator and snack cupboards.
- Turn off the tv during meals, and limit children’s snacking when watching tv.
- Serve a vegetable or fruit with every meal and at snack time.
- Reward your children with praise and fun activities rather than with food.
- Involve your children in meal planning and food preparation. They are more likely to eat what they help to make.
- While shopping and cooking, teach your children about the food groups and the importance of a balanced diet. Throughout the day, choose the types and amounts of foods you need from the five food groups.
- Limit foods that are high in saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars, and make sure to get enough fiber and calcium.
- Use low-fat cooking methods such as baking, roasting and grilling, and choose healthy fats when you use them, such as olive or canola oils.
- Serve water, low-fat or nonfat milk with and between meals.
- Teach your children how to make wise food choices away from home–at school cafeterias, restaurants, and vending machines. Teach them to pay attention to both the quality and quantity of their food choices. More food is not always better for them; appropriate portion sizes need to be understood.
Pack nutritious snacks and water everywhere you go
Whenever we head out we always pack a family picnic cooler full of water, fresh fruits & vegetables, low-fat cheese and whole grain crackers, nuts, dried fruits etc. Not only does this help us to make healthier choices it’s also a great way to save money and time.
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