Do you still remember the time when you learned how to ride your bike? The most important thing was to perfect your ability to balance. When you got that figured out, you could easily turn the pedals to enjoy a smooth ride. The same is true when it comes to choosing food. When we learn to carefully balance the amounts and types of food we consume, all of our body functions work smoothly for optimal health.
- Limit screen time – Screen time refers to the amount of time spent watching television, playing video games, computer games, or socializing via social networking sites. Physical inactivity for most of the day leads to weight gain. Being overweight is a contributor to heart problems. Limit screen time to no more than two hours a day. Explain the importance of physical movement to your child, and if you think he/she is bored with his usual media time, provide other ideas that force them to move.
- Exercise – According to the American Heart Association, physically inactive kids grow into inactive adults. TV and computer time should be only two hours or less per day. Parents should not place a television in their kid’s bedrooms in order to avoid their spending too much time watching TV shows. Children can participate actively in matters such as raking leaves, scrubbing floors or vacuuming. Family holidays and weekends may include swimming, hiking and other outdoor recreational activities. Children should do at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. The American Heart Association recommends that children continue to remain active after school and do homework right away. Encourage them to take a break from the structured environment and participate in physically active play time before dinner.
- Eat foods that are healthy – A healthy diet is associated with a healthy weight in children. Give your child plenty of nutritious foods every day. Serve healthy choices from each food group and explain the importance of keeping them heart healthy. For example, fiber from whole grains and fish containing omega-3 fatty acids, both of which help to control cholesterol and protect the heart. Limit foods that are high in saturated and Trans fats, such as red meat and frozen pizzas. Give the kids fruits and vegetables at each meal and reduce portion sizes. Switching to whole grain foods, choosing lean meats and avoiding sweets and sodas will have a strong impact on your child’s weight and overall health.