New parents know the importance of nutrition and exercise for ensuring their children stay healthy. But you might not know how to go about choosing the healthiest foods and keeping your kids active enough if you haven’t ever done it before. Here are some easy, stress-free health and nutrition tips to boost children’s health.
Depending on where you live, it’s not always easy to shop fresh, but sticking to local, seasonal produce when possible is a healthy habit that makes a big difference. Foods grown far away spend significant time on the road, leaving more time to lose nutrients. And with local markets, produce is usually sold soon after harvest at its peak freshness and ripeness. Minimizing transportation and processing can ensure maximum freshness and flavor, and nutrient retention. Supporting the environment and local farmers is an added bonus!
When purchasing prepared foods, be diligent about reading labels. Nutritional labels are required by law to list the most prominent ingredients first. Avoid products packed with sugar.
Sugar can be listed under a variety of names including corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, and brown rice syrup.
There are a few seals that illustrate products that have been complied with health-oriented recommendations and guidelines. USDA Organic is one, and Non-GMO Project Verified is another to watch out for.
Many of us are exposed to conventional cleaning products and their residues at low levels on a daily basis – they can linger in the air, enter our bodies by absorption through the skin, or through ingestion.
There is no regulatory requirement for ingredients to be listed on the label in a consistent format, so it can be hard to identify chemicals of concern. Consider using baking soda and vinegar for natural household cleaning applications.
Make fitness a part of everyday life by incorporating adventure and play into your routine. Play outside, walk to school, go for a family bike ride in the spring, and head skiing or tobogganing on the weekend during the winter. By keeping the focus on fun, you’ll establish fitness habits the family will be happy to stick with.
While we all like to save money, don’t let cost be the deciding factor when choosing food for your family. Choosing quality ingredients and whole foods over processed foods is a huge boost to your family’s health. With a little know-how in the kitchen, you can make cost-effective meals with great ingredients. Besides, you can probably make up the difference between fresh local produce over imported, for example, by going meatless one or two nights a week.
While most families spend hours researching the make of car or computer they’re going to purchase, many don’t spend time looking into the latest health research. Subscribe to a few trusted sites to ensure you’re up to date on children’s health and nutrition. Look online for websites that are written by reputable sources like pediatricians, nutritionists, and doctors.
All the best health information in the world is no match for the power of parental intuition. If you think a certain food or product is negatively impacting your child’s health, get rid of it!
The 80-20 rule is good to follow when it comes to decisions about your family’s health and you should do the same. That means that 80 percent of the time you serve up super healthy meals and snacks so that there is no need to worry about the 20 percent of times you can’t control (or don’t have time to!) like birthday parties, school trips or particularly frantic weekends at home. A treat every now and then isn’t a big deal and can even be rewarding for children, but 80 percent of the time keep it healthy.
All the best intentions in the world amount to nothing if your family isn’t happy. Choosing, cooking and eating delicious, healthy food can be a joy if you get everyone involved in the fun. And active living can be second nature if you focus on play.
There are lots of simple, stress-free ways to boost children’s health and nutrition. And the best part is, the healthy habits we teach them now will serve them well for life.
More expert advice about Children's Health
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