How to raise healthy children

March 15, 2011|Lynn Little

Healthful eating and physical activity are good lifestyle habits for the entire family. Children who learn the value of exercise and the how-to’s of choosing healthy snacks and meals are more likely to continue these habits throughout their lives.
Get moving with these tips for encouraging family physical activity courtesy of
 Play together. Children of all ages like to do outdoor games and activities with their parents.
 Limit screen time. Screen time, including TV, video games and computer use, should be limited to two hours per day. By setting limits on the amount of time your children spend in front of the computer screen and TV, you help them learn to balance their lives with a variety of activities.
 Use your calendar. Set aside time every week to schedule at least one or two family activities.
 Ban in-room screens. An excellent way to encourage activity and increase family communication is to remove television sets from children’s rooms.  
  Make the activities fun for the whole family. Physical activities that are planned for your family must be fun for your children in order for your children to continue to enjoy these activities throughout their lives.
 Variety is the spice of life. Plan several different activities for your child to experience and enjoy.
 Dance the day away. Music can be a powerful incentive.  

  •  Eat healthfully.Strategies for eating healthfully include:
  •  Remove temptation by stocking up on nutritious, healthy snacks such as pretzels, nuts, fresh fruits, carrots, bagels and air-popped popcorn rather than high-fat, high-calorie snacks.
  •   Keep the healthier snack alternatives readily available on the kitchen counter or easily visible in the refrigerator. Put cookies and chips in less accessible spots and save for special occasions.
  •  Teach hunger identification. Much of our eating is in response to emotional hunger such as stress, anxiety, boredom, loneliness, and depression rather than physical hunger.  Help your child differentiate hunger cues and non-hunger cues by asking if he or she is really hungry before automatically providing a snack.
  •  Recognize age differences. MyPyramid ( provides recommended daily amounts for each food group and ages of children.  Children tend to eat smaller portions of food, which means they may need to eat more frequently to meet the daily recommendations.  
  •  Offer regular meals and snacks. Missing meals leads to unplanned snacking and overeating.  Planned meals and snacks help teach healthy eating habits.
  • Share the fun. Involve your children when selecting and preparing foods.  Your children are more likely to taste and eat foods that they help choose and prepare.  
  • Savor meals and snacks. Mealtime can be a highlight of your family’s day by making it a time for conversation and fun, as well as food.

As a parent, you are the primary role model for your child. Your behaviors have a direct impact on your children.

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