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Children today are becoming more and more complex. Education has changed, and anything they want to know can be learned from the internet. As great as improved information is, many kids have adopted a sedentary lifestyle requiring entertainment and education. Unfortunately, adults do the same thing. But you can be the example and teach your children about healthy foods, how to look after themselves and the importance of regular and meaningful activity.
Educating your children in this way from an early age will offset common health issues associated with getting older. For example, regular exercise will increase bone and muscle mass, therefore staving off issues such as osteoporosis. Additionally, cutting out junk food and eating a healthy and balanced diet will encourage cardiovascular health, reading the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Teaching Children Healthy Eating Habits
It’s never too early to begin teaching your kids about healthy eating. There’s so much to choose from with the internet, celebrity chef cookbooks, and every other TV show being about food or health. As with most things in life, studies have shown that what a child learns from their parents at an early age, sticks with them forever.
Therefore you must teach your children about healthy eating when they’re young, so they don’t need weight loss treatments later. As a parent, you can hide your kids’ eating habits from when they are babies right up until they are grown-ups. And from there they will be able to guide their children about the importance of healthy eating habits. And so on.
Learning to Cook
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), more than 65,000 children per year are injured in the kitchen in the UK alone. Yet, one of the simplest yet most effective things is teaching your children to cook for themselves. This extends beyond the act of preparing a meal. You can teach a child about kitchen safety, proper knife techniques, and food hygiene standards from an early age.
Of course, toddlers and young children shouldn’t be allowed to use knives, but you could still show them the proper way to move with or store a knife and why they shouldn’t touch them. As children watch you in the kitchen, they will learn a lot. Also, kids just love helping in the kitchen. Learning to cook well-prepared, fresh food is the best way of ensuring your children get the vitamins and minerals they need and prepare them for later life.
Say No to Junk
Teaching your children how to make delicious fresh food is vital for their health. Unfortunately, junk food is flooding children with harmful chemicals and substances such as processed sugars that cause many problems. Such problems include excess weight, reduced cerebral development and dental issues, to name a few. If junk foods such as ice cream, pizzas and burgers are to be given to children, it should be done as a special treat and made fresh if possible.
Another issue is that of what children drink. There are numerous brands of fruit drinks aimed at children. Yet, just because they contain fruit doesn’t mean they are healthy. In fact, some of the leading brands, Robinsons Fruit Shoots, contain 4 tablespoons of sugar. Around 80% of their recommended daily intake. Other drinks such as Coke also contain high amounts of caffeine, and therefore, should not be given to children under the age of 16.
The Importance of Balance
Learning to cook and eating healthy foods is all well and good. Yet, it can be a little redundant if you don’t eat a balanced diet. It is recommended that you intake an equal balance of carbohydrates, protein, fibre and dairy. Unsaturated fats are also advised in addition to plenty of water, around 6 to 8 glasses per day.
Foods containing high amounts of fat, salt and sugar are recommended for regular intake. Still, they won’t cause any harm on occasion. But finding a balanced diet can be difficult. One of the best tips is to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. These should also be of a wide colour range. Different colours in foods are indicative of their content. For example, carrots are orange because they contain high amounts of beta-carotene, which is orange in colour.
Taking Care of the Body and Mind
Eating a balanced and healthy diet is excellent for your children’s overall health. And as great as healthy food is for your kids, they need activity in their lives as well. Physical activity will strengthen muscles, promote healthy organs and provide cardiovascular exercise for a healthy heart. These are all excellent reasons for training and should be a priority.
However, regular exercise is also proven to be effective for mental health as well. The act of movement, whether it’s running, jumping or playing on swings, promotes the release of serotonin and reduces cortisol levels. Serotonin is the chemical released by your endocrine system and brain that makes you feel good. You feel this when eating your favourite food, achieving something or making love. High serotonin levels are known to reduce anxiety and depression.
But every parent knows how hard it can be to get the kids to exercise. Given a choice between watching Nickelodeon and jogging, most children are just going to get comfy on the couch. But letting your kids become couch slouch can severely impact their bone density and muscle mass, which will cause health problems later in life.
The trick is to disguise exercise as fun activities. For example, you could design a hunt where the children need to find things hidden around the house. And they have to run the whole way. You would also get them to walk the dog or join a dance class. Whatever it takes to get them into the routine of getting at least 1 hour of exercise per day.
You might be tempted to do fun and active things with your children once in a while. While this is better than nothing, it doesn’t significantly impact their health over the long term. Regular exercise is required for ensuring your children stay active and healthy. It is advised that activity from an early age is encouraged to help your kids grow well.
Bone density and muscle mass develop better with active children. This is because proteins in the body break down and are rebuilt stronger. Outside activity is also encouraged as vitamin D helps with calcium production. Additionally, regular exercise in children helps with motor, cognitive and social skills. These are essential for development into teens and adults.
But of course, there is much more to health than exercise, eating well, and activity. Almost everything we do affects our health in some way or another. For example, one of the primary concerns among paediatrics is the state of children’s teeth these days. Public Health England reports that around a quarter of 5 year-olds suffer tooth decay. The reasons vary but include fizzy drinks and sweets. Yet this is preventable by encouraging a good brushing routine of twice daily.
Another healthy routine is getting enough sleep. Children need more sleep than adults. Ages 3 to 10 require 10 to 12 hours of sleep per night instead of teen and adult 8 hours. Unfortunately, with today’s distractions such as streaming TV, smartphones and video games, kids just want to be entertained all day and night. Therefore, it would be helpful if you ensure they sleep at a scheduled bedtime. You can use internet and device parental controls to help with this.