Let’s talk about getting kids back on track!
When spring has sprung, it’s time to break out of those bad habits we picked up during winter. I’m talking about the comfort foods we overindulged in, the times we avoided exercising, and not spending enough time outside. Since kids always follow our lead, they’ve likely done the same. The result is that we’ve all probably put on a bit of weight.
As parents, it’s up to us to set an example, so our children can be healthy. To get healthy for Summer to stay healthy year-round, we need to change our eating habits and make exercise a top priority!
While children are growing, they must get the nutritional value they need to be healthy, physically and mentally. Let’s get back on track!
Get Healthy Through Food
Children need to be served three to five portions of vegetables a day to be healthy and stay healthy. They also need two to four portions of fruit each day. To get your kids to eat fruits and veggies, try hiding them in other foods. Fruits can be hidden in smoothies, and you can easily hide veggies in sauces and casseroles.
When it comes to cereal, pasta, rice, bread, rolls, and bagels, you can look for brown grains rather than white. Just making this switch can dramatically affect blood sugar levels, weight and even relieve constipation—the more nutritious their meals, the better kids sleep, which also helps them be healthy.
Processed foods are often filled with chemicals, so these should be limited. A good rule of thumb is if you have no idea what the ingredients are on the food label, eat in limited amounts. Reserve these foods for special treats only. Also, fruits can make a delicious dessert, so serve fruit instead of processed foods.
Try these healthy smoothie recipes today!
Growing children need at least an hour of exercise each day, and it’s best if most of this is an aerobic activity. To get healthy, they need their hearts pumping, which can be done by cycling, swimming, running, climbing, hiking, and/or jumping. Kids’ exercise vital!
The whole family can exercise together. Spend time hiking, bike riding, playing sports at a local park, and/or swimming in a pool, lake, or ocean. Playing Frisbee on the beach is not only fun, but it’s also great exercise.
Kids’ Screen Time
For those who don’t know what is meant by “screen time,” it’s watching TV, sitting in front of a computer, playing video games, using an iPad, etc.
Regarding kids’ screen time, the Canadian Pediatric Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that kids spend no more than two hours a day in front of a screen. This is a lot less than most children are consuming, and in my opinion, this is still way too much.
For my patients, I recommend no more than a half-hour of screen time a day. The less screen time kids are allowed, the more active they will be. If you want your kids to be healthy and stay healthy, limit their screen time and make sure that your kids exercise instead.
Let your child choose a favorite TV show and make it a weekly treat to watch it as a family. When they know they have this 30-60-minute special activity to look forward to every week, that gets them excited and makes them appreciate it even more. Limiting your kids’ screen time is vital to their health and well-being.
Time to Sleep
Children age three to six need to get 11-14 hours of sleep each day/night. Kids over six years old need 10-12 hours of sleep each day/night, which is recommended for adults.
To get sufficient sleep yourself, your kids must get adequate sleep time. Who wouldn’t want this? When we get too little sleep, we tend to gain weight, get irritable, have difficulty working, have less energy, and exercise less. We need to realize that sleep is not a leisurely pleasure but an essential activity to stay healthy.
To improve your sleep and that of your children, minimize screen time and instead do some quiet activities as a family to get everyone relaxed before it is time to sleep. Reading together or coloring are perfect activities to engage in before bedtime.
It’s time to start enjoying nature again. Now that the weather is warming up go outside and spend an hour exercising as a family. Head out to the park, go on a hike, take a bike ride, or go swimming. The idea is for everyone to get their heart rate going while having fun. Get your children excited about the great outdoors by making the activities fun for everyone. Again, parents lead by example, so don’t be shy about having fun yourselves!
So, turn off the TV, step away from your computer and head outdoors to enjoy nature!
Q: How do I encourage my family to be healthy this Summer?
Answer: I share a few simple tips to stay healthy this Summer and all year round! Let’s get healthy through the foods we eat. Let’s ensure we have enough time to sleep and decrease kids’ screen time to have more time to focus on kids’ exercise.
Q: How much time should we spend on kids’ exercise?
Answer: a child and adult should get at least one hour of heart-racing activity per day to maintain optimal health.
Q: How many hours of kids’ screen time is acceptable?
Answer: Kids’ screen time should be zero if your child is younger than 2, and no more than 2 hours if your child is older than 2.
Q: How many hours of sleep time is good for my child?
Answer: Children less than six years of age should get at least 11 hours of sleep time, and kids older than six should get at least 10 hours of sleep.
Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.