It’s that time of year when we look back and resolve to make the next year better than the last. There may be no better New Year’s resolution than to teach your children healthy habits related to nutrition and fitness — habits parents can adopt for themselves as well. As part of its obesity prevention initiative, Maine launched a very simple and easy to remember program that can impart healthy daily habits on kids and their parents:
5 – fruits and veggies
2 – hours or less of recreational screen time*
1 – hour or more of physical activity
0 – sugary drinks, more water and low-fat milk
* Keep TV/computer out of bedroom. No screen time under the age of 2.
5 — Eat at least five fruits and vegetables every day. Putting some fruit on your cereal or in your oatmeal or yogurt, or lettuce and tomato on a sandwich boosts your servings. So does having fruit and vegetables as snacks. Here’s why fruits and veggies are important:
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides vitamins and minerals, important for supporting growth and development, and for optimal immune function. Most fruits and vegetables are low in calories and fat, making them a healthy choice anytime. They may also contain phytochemicals (fight-o-chemicals) that work together with fiber to benefit your health in many ways. Different phyotchemicals are found in different fruits based on their color—that’s why it’s important to put a rainbow on your plate.
2 — Limit recreational screen time (TV, computers, video games, mobile devices) to less than two hours a day. Kids rely on more and more technology to get their schoolwork done, so that doesn’t count. Limiting TV, video games, computer time, and cell phones can be challenging:
> Participate – keep TVs, computers, DVD players, and video games out of your child’s room.
> Having the TV in a common room makes watching a family activity.
> Watch TV with your child and discuss the program. Ask them questions and express your views.
> This will also let you know what your children are watching.
1 — Get at least one hour of physical activity every day. You don’t have to play a sport to get sufficient daily exercise. Limiting screen time and finding ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily life helps boost your fitness level:
> Take a walk with your family
> Play with your pet
> Play tag
> Take a bike ride (remember to wear your helmet)
> Turn on music and dance
> Jump rope
> Play Frisbee
> Take the stairs
> Park the car at the end of the parking lot
> Make snow angels
Soda has no nutritional value and is high in sugar. Just nine ounces of soda has 110-150 empty calories. Many sodas also contain caffeine, which kids don’t need. Energy drinks are NOT sports drinks and should never replace water during exercise.
5-2-1-0 Let’s Go! That’s pretty easy. But there are two other numbers — 4 and 3 — that seem left out, and another number (8) that doesn’t quite fit in. We’ll look at those tomorrow.