When it comes to health and nutrition for children, parents play a crucial role. Remember, a healthy weight for a child is much more than a number. It’s about forming healthy behaviors, such as eating a variety of foods, getting proper sleep, limiting screen time, and staying active.
When it comes to children, diets are not the answer. They often do more harm than good. Rather, encourage your child to eat a variety of foods while minimizing sugars and other unhealthy processed foods. Eat the rainbow – meaning give them a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. If they are picky about vegetables, stick to simple vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower and spruce them up with seasonings or add cheese or sauce over them. You can even incorporate them into smoothies. Also, make sure they start the day with breakfast. And forego the cereal in the box. Instead, start the day with eggs, oatmeal, whole grain bread, fruit, or yogurt.
Studies have shown that kids who regularly get an adequate amount of sleep have improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, and overall mental and physical health. Recommended sleep varies with age. Children 6-12 years old need 9 to 12 hours of sleep and those 13-18 years old need 8 to 10 hours of sleep. Establishing a consistent bedtime routine is important. The routine should ideally start at the same time every night. Try some of these tips before bedtime to help fall asleep easier:
- Dim the light
- Stop use of electronics and screens at least an hour before bed
- Limit caffeine
- Try a quiet activity like reading a book
- If your child wakes up during the night, walk them back to their room with as little commotion as possible
- Set a wake-up time for when the child is allowed to leave his or her room. They can play quietly until that time if desired.
When it comes to screen time, children and adolescents spend a lot of time watching screens, including smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, TVs, and computers. Children ages 8-12 years in the United States spend about 4-6 hours a day watching or using screens, and teenagers spend up to 9 hours. Over time, too much screen time can lead to a number of health problems. Managing your child’s screen time can definitely be challenging. But there are some things that can help such as turning off all screens during family meals and outings. In fact, you can create a tech-free night one night a week. Turn off screens and remove them from the bedroom 30-60 minutes before bedtime. For young children, absolutely avoid using screens as pacifiers, babysitters, or to stop tantrums.
In addition to healthy eating, proper sleep, and limited screen time, physical activity is equally as important in children and teenagers. Sedentary behavior means time spent doing very little physical activity, such as sitting at a computer, playing video games, or watching television. Just like you can include the whole family in healthy eating, involve the whole family in physical activity too. Combine both structured activities (like specific sports) and unstructured activities like riding the bike or going to the playground. Children and teen agers need about 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise daily.
So, remember, even small changes in behaviors and habits add up to improved health. From meal planning to exercise, sleep schedules to family routines – a little planning can go a long way in helping your family develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
If you are ready to get started or want more information about our comprehensive weight loss program, please reach out to my team and I at https://healthymeweightloss.com/contact-us/ We are here to help!