If you’re the parent of an elementary school-age child, this is a prime time to make a significant impact on his attitude about food and fitness.
Children in this age group are still impressionable and, even if you don’t think so, listen to every word you say. Take this opportunity to teach them healthy habits early on, paving the way for a positive lifestyle that will take them through to their adult years. A good way to start healthy eating habits is by exposing your children to a variety of food types.
Studies show children need multiple exposures (a minimum of 15) to try newfoods. Also allow freedom of choice by providing reasonable food options. For example, snacks can be an apple with peanut butter or graham crackers and milk. Make healthychoices easily accessible and available to them.Another way to help develop a healthy attitude is to avoid labeling foods as “good” and“bad.”
Instead, refer to fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein as “everyday” foodsand sweets as “sometimes” foods. Also encourage your child to pay attention to hisbody—eat when they’re hungry and stop eating when they’re full.Proper nourishment and achieving a healthy body weight is essential for physical and psychological health. Studies show that when the body is well nourished, the brain functions properly. It’s important for parents to be cognizant of modeling the rightnutritional choices, language and balancing fitness in front of their young children.
“The Busy Body Book: A Kid’s Guide to Fitness” by Lizzy Rockwell
“Why Should I Eat Well?” by Claire Llewellyn
“The Monster Health Book: A Guide to Eating Healthy, Being Alive and Feeling Great for Monsters and Kids!” by Edward Miller
- Improvement in overall health and wellness
- Stronger immune system
- High self-esteem and self-confidence
- Reduced risk of eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating)
- Lower rates of depression and anxiety
- Improved social interactions and relationships
What healthy food and fitness look like
- Well-balanced meals, daily vitamins, consistent exercise and sleep.
- Healthy balance, variety and moderation in food.
- Recommended amounts of calcium and iron.
- Moderate intake of sugars, caffeine and salt.
What you can do
- Plan and encourage three balanced meals and two healthy snacks a day.
- Expose your children to a variety of foods.
- Allow freedom of choice by providing reasonable food option
- Make healthy choiceseasily accessible and available.
- Avoid labeling foods as good and bad.
- Encourage children to listen to their bodies.
- Involve kids in growing fruits and vegetables, as well as shopping, planning and cooking meals.
- Explore and discover your child’s favorite physical activity and make it a daily habit.
- Incorporate physical activity, such as household chores and after-dinner walks, into yourroutine.
- Encourage fluid/water intake.
- What are some signs that you’re hungry, full or that your body needs to move?
- Do you know that physical activity builds stronger muscles, bones, and coordination andkeeps your body healthy?
- Growing up, I ran track, but I always wished I would’vetried soccer. Is there a specificsport you’d like to try?
- Do you know that if you give your body healthy food, it gives you good energy and your brain works better? What kind of foods could prepare your body for the day?
- Do you know that someone your age needs 10 hours of sleep every night? If you wake up at 7 a.m., what time should you go to bed?