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Tips for a Healthy Childhood

Tips for a Healthy Childhood

Childhood obesity is a serious issue often overlooked in this country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity rates have increased by more than 10 percent in the past 30 years, while the rates in teenagers have quadrupled in the same period.

There are several reasons why these numbers have increased. In America, cheap, highly accessible, nutrient-deficient foods have become more prevalent. In fact, a National Center for Health Statistics study found that more than a third of American children eat fast food every day.

We are also living in a different world where both parents are working. In the 1940s, only 10 percent of mothers held jobs. Today, women make up half of the workforce. With both parents working full-time or part-time jobs, it can be easy to swap health for convenience.

Stock up on easy-to-pack fruits

To get the vitamins and minerals fruit provide, opt for quick-grab options. Bananas, apples, peaches, pears, and more are examples of healthy foods that travel easy. They need no preparation and can be tossed into a lunch box or backpack on their own. (Just remember to wash your apples!) For picky kids who prefer their apples sliced, you can find pouches of pre-sliced apples at the grocery store.

Encourage outdoor time

Television and video games are fun, but they are rooted in a sedentary lifestyle. Balance indoor and outdoor activities by allowing one hour of TV and/or fun outdoor video games for every hour outside (weather permitting, of course.) Surprise your child with a new soccer ball, sidewalk chalk, water toys, etc., so they associate the outdoors with fun and exciting play. Make time to go outdoors with them or allow them to invite friends over for group play.

Get your kid involved in sports

It’s no surprise that youth sports offer tons of benefits. Not only do kids get the exercise benefits of sports, they learn how to work with others and how to display good sportsmanship. Studies have shown kids who participate in team sports earn better grades and are more likely to be accepted into college.

Limit fast food consumption

Fast food chains might be an easy and cheap solution to meals when you’re in a time crunch, but we don’t need to go into how bad they are. (We know you already know.) You don’t have to take away fast food completely, but limit how many times a month you order from a restaurant.

Get junk food out of the house

Like fast food, junk food – options usually loaded with refined sugars, bad fats, and preservatives – is easy and convenient. The come pre-packaged and travel well. But for the amount of time it takes to put Oreos in a bag, you could fill that same bag with carrots, red peppers and celery. Snack smart. Stay away from the chips and cookies aisle completely so you won’t be tempted.

Be a role model

None of these tips matter unless you make wellness a priority in your own life. If your kids see you prioritizing fitness and health, they will be more likely to do the same. If they don’t see you leading by example, the message is it matters. The best solution to this is to do as much with your child as possible. Eat healthy foods with them, play outdoors, and include them in your favorite healthy activities. The more effort you put into a healthy lifestyle, your mini-me will do the same.

Modeling a healthy lifestyle for your child is a habit they will thank you for as an adult. Healthy children are more likely to become healthy adults, while obese children and adolescents are at a higher risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, various cancers, stroke, and osteoarthritis. If you’re looking to make a change in your family’s health, the time is now.

Superfoods: What Are They and What Do They Do?

Superfoods: What Are They and What Do They Do?

Within the past 10 years, one word which has scored some buzz is “superfood.” You see it listed on menus, on packaging and in advertisements. So, what is it and what makes this food so “super?” These foods got their name from the high number of nutrients packed into a small serving. For people who struggle with reaching their daily nutrient needs, superfoods are helpful and versatile. The can be used as snacks, sides or complete meals.

Here are more tips and information about these awesome foods.

200 calories in a superfood are different than 200 calories elsewhere

Superfoods are proof that not all calories are created equal. For example, you could have 200 calories of peanut butter cups and 200 calories of avocado and have your body react very differently to each. The peanut butter cups are packed with sugar, which eventually turns to fat, and provide only short bursts of energy followed by a crash. The avocado, on the other hand, is filled with healthy fats. Diet trends of the ‘80s and ‘90s made “fat” a negative word. The fats in superfoods, however, are nutrients your body needs. The fats in an avocado are essential in the key nutrient absorption it needs to sustain health and to assist the body in reaching its maximum potential.

Eating more doesn’t always mean better

With all your daily food intake, you have to be aware of how much you put in your body per day. To maintain weight, your calorie intake must equal your calorie output. The amount of food you eat during the day – no matter how “super” it is – matters. Your aim is to replace less-healthy foods in your diet with superfoods in order to optimize your daily nutrition.

They are easy to incorporate throughout your day

There are a number of different superfoods out there from which you can choose. If you’re just barely reaching your nutrient needs and want that extra push, a perfect solution is raw almonds, blueberries, edamame, strawberries, or a banana for a snack. If you’re really struggling with getting daily levels, start small by adding a superfood to every meal. It can be as easy as switching to a whole-grain cereal with fruit on top or adding a superfood as a side dish to your lunches and dinners.

There are a TON

With superfoods, you’re not doomed to eat nuts and avocados for the rest of your life in the quest to be healthy. There are myriad options you can add into your diet. Not everyone likes the same kinds of food, so if you don’t like one superfood, just move to the next. The different kinds of superfoods also mean diversity in your meals. You don’t have to eat the same thing over and over. You can choose a different superfood every day and even mix up how you prepare each superfood to come up with recipes which will keep your palette diverse.

Luckily for those looking to venture into the superfood realm, the food’s high-profile status has made it more accessible. A simple internet search will bring up all the foods, recipes and uses you need to make your diet a little more super.