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Get your kids off to a healthy start this new school year

August 08, 2016

The new school year often brings new challenges and excitement for the entire family but finding time to eat right and exercise can be difficult task. While getting into the back-to-school routine, start by incorporating new healthy habits into the mix- exercising and eating right! This is a great time to take charge of your family’s health and start working on making positive changes together. 

Here are some ways you help your child start the school year off right!

Be physically active for at least 60 minutes every day 

Physical activity is good for the mind and body. It is important for heart health and also for building strong muscles and bones. Encourage kids to go outside and find an activity they enjoy doing – such as swimming, dancing, biking, jump rope, running, or a game of tag. Get the whole family active by going out for after dinner walks or bike rides. 
Tip: Set up an obstacle course outside or make up a game that involves activity.

Reduce screen time Three Kids Watching TV

Give kids something to do other than watch TV or play video games. The more screen time your child has, the less physically active they will be. A good goal is no more than 2 hours of screen time every day; most kids get double or even triple this in the summer. Encourage kids to get out of their rooms and do something active to get their heart pumping. Especially for those rainy days, purchase some video games, DVD’s, or games that encourage physical activity.

Try new fruits and vegetables

Many kids have trouble trying new foods, especially those dreaded vegetables. In order for your child to like (or dislike) something, they will have to try it. This also means you will need to buy it and try it too! Get creative with fruits and vegetables – use cookie cutters to make fun shapes or provide delicious dips. 
Activity: Set up a fun taste testing game with various new fruits and vegetables to sample

Calcium rich foods with every meal

Bones are the frame work for your child’s growing body. Keeping them healthy and strong is important, especially since they reach their peak bone mass by the time they graduate high school. Focus on serving calcium-rich foods such as milk, cheese, yogurt, green leafy vegetables, and calcium-fortified foods with every meal. 
Tip: Try replacing one soda per day with a glass of milk. Try yogurt with sliced fruit instead of a pudding cup. 

Family dinners

Family dinners fuel healthy kids. Family dinners are a great way to help reconnect with each other after a long day. Kids who eat dinner with their family will often choose more nutritious foods, and snack less throughout the day. The key to a successful family dinner is to plan. Determine what is doable for the family; it might be eating together once per week or every day. Together make a menu for the upcoming week or invite the family in the kitchen to help with meal preparation. 

While getting into the back-to-school routine, start by incorporating new healthy habits into the mix- exercising and eating right!

Keep goals realistic

Everyone has big goals for themselves but in order to achieve them, we have to take it one step at a time. Having far-fetched family goals that are unachievable will automatically create failure. Start by prioritizing – is it more important for your family to exercise together, have family dinners or eliminate sugary drinks? Focus on one thing at a time. Start building a solid foundation and then slowly start to build on it. 
Activity: Ask your kids what their nutrition/activity goals are. See if they whole family can work on these goals together. 

Drink more water

Water, water, and more water! Like a plant, our body needs water to survive. If we don’t drink enough we can become dehydrated, which can cause dizziness, headaches, and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms can affect kid’s school work and grades. Make water more exciting by adding a splash of fruit juice or trying a new sparkling water. 
Tip: Provide kids with a refillable water bottle in their backpack or when they go outside to play. Serve a glass of water with each meal and snack. 

Eat breakfast  Sibling Breakfast Before School

Children who eat breakfast everyday often do better in school, have more energy and surprisingly are more likely to be at a healthy weight. Skipping breakfast often leads to overeating or choosing unhealthier options just to satisfy a growling stomach. Breakfast should be simple and quick, especially during school day mornings. 
Tip: Have children prepare a grab-n-go breakfast the night before. Some ideas are – peanut butter and jelly sandwich, fresh fruit, snack bags with dry cereal, or a cheese stick with crackers. 

Practice mindful eating

Mindful eating means eating with full awareness. It is about using your 5 senses, eating slowly, and enjoying every bite of food. Teaching children about mindful eating can be fun and exciting, and possibly can bring positive changes in your child’s eating habits. As a family, practice mindful eating every day.  
Activity: Start off with discussing the five senses with your child. Have them choose their favorite food to use in the activity, such as a piece of chocolate or an orange slice. Go through each of the five senses – sight, touch, smell, taste, hear with every food and see what your kids discover. 

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