Health Generation

Healthy living for kids

TV Time

Tired of hearing your children beg for sugary, high-fat foods? They may be influenced by the media and too many TV commercials. What to do? Limit the amount of time your children watch TV to less than 2 hours a day.

Remove the TV from your child's room. Find fun activities to do inside and outside your home: play hopscotch, jump rope, walk the dog, play hide-and-seek, or build an obstacle course in the hall.

Calcium Matters and Is Very Important for Good Bone Health

Why are tween and teen years critical for bone-health and to prevent the onset of osteoporosis in adults?

It takes calcium to build strong bones. So calcium is especially important during the tween and teen years, when bones are growing their fastest.

Boys and girls in these age groups have calcium needs that they can’t make up for later in life. In fact, by the time teens finish their growth spurts around age 17, 90 percent of their adult bone mass is established.

Unfortunately, fewer than one in ten girls and only one in four boys ages 9 to 13 are at or above their adequate intake of calcium. This lack of calcium has a big impact on bones and teeth.

  • Calcium is critical for lifelong bone health
  • Calcium is critical for teeth.

There are lots of different calcium-rich foods to choose from, making it easy for kids and teens to get the calcium they need every day.

  • Calcium from milk
  • Calcium from other foods

Milk isn't the only way for tweens and teens to get the calcium they need every day. Lots of calcium-rich foods are available to help them get the 1,300 mg of calcium they need every day.

Experts report that the best way to get calcium is by eating calcium-rich foods. But for people who have lactose intolerance or who don’t eat dairy products, foods with calcium added are also an option.

Check the ingredient list for added calcium on the label:

  • Tofu (with added calcium sulfate)
  • Calcium-fortified orange juice
  • Soy beverages with added calcium
  • Calcium-fortified cereals or breads
  • Calcium supplements are also an alternative way to get calcium for children and adults who don’t or can’t have milk or milk products.

Food labels can tell you how much calcium is in one serving of food. Look at the % Daily Value (% DV) next to the calcium number on the food label.

Add more vegetables to the dinner table. Try a variety of vegetables, and keep trying even when your kids say they don't like them. Taste buds change over time. Have them try one bite each time you serve something they don't like.

Make food more fun. Serving dinner that your kids can adapt to their own tastes makes dinner more fun, and gets them to eat better. Try taco soup with a base to include tomatoes and pinto beans and let them add their own ingredients: cheese, sour cream, chips, olives, corn, etc. They probably won't notice there were tomatoes in there.

Healthy eating takes time, but worth it in the end. Your kids will adjust and eventually won't miss the candy and chips they used to munch on. And everyone will benefit from the change.

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Healthy Children and
Healthy Eating Choices

Parents are in charge of their children's eating habits! So as a parent, your responsibility is to buy healthy groceries and serve nutritious food to your growing children.

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Start by establishing a routine, even if it's difficult at first. This means a set time for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Once you have a routine for meals and snacks, meal times are more relaxed. Most children are happier on a schedule and become hungry at regular times. You'll feel happier about your parenting job when the family has a routine.

  • So, be consistent! Kids need a meal routine just like they need a bedtime routine. Plan for three meals and two snacks each day! Serve a vegetable or fruit at every meal. Fruits and vegetables are great for snacking too.

  • Instead of rewarding your child with food, reward them with attention, such as hugs, kisses, and smiles and playful activities.

  • Avoid arguments about high-fat, high-sugar foods by not bringing them into the house. Leave the candy, soft drinks, chips, and cookies at the store.

  • Serve water when your child is thirsty. Water is cheap and healthy.

Eat at Home

Part of having a healthy family includes spending time together. The family meal is a great way for everyone to get together, have a conversation, and eat together.

Serving meals at home requires planning. Before you do your shopping, sit down and plan your meals for the week. Make a list of all the ingredients you'll need to prepare healthy, balanced meals. When fatigue kicks in and you want dinner on the table fast, your menu is already planned and the ingredients are right on hand.

Make sure to always include low-fat or nonfat dairy products, fruit, and vegetables.

Limit the amount of processed ready to-eat-snacks you buy (such as potato chips or cookies). Prepackaged and processed foods are usually higher in calories and fats and often more expensive.

Simplify your schedule for better quality of life. Say no to lessons, teams, and commitments that don't interest you or your child. If you or your child are feeling overwhelmed, consider limiting the number of organized activities your child participates in to one per season.

Children thrive on routine. Routine meals, naps, outdoor play, and bedtime can make for a happy child who comes to the table rested and hungry for the food you have prepared.

Picky Eating Tips

Parents are role models! Set a good example by eating healthy foods yourself! Buy and try new fruits and vegetables. Drink water between meals. Set an eating routine at home for your meals and snacks. Your children will learn by your good example.

Don't expect your child to like something new the first time. Offer it again in a week. It usually takes several tries before kids are willing to try new foods.

Place a small amount of each food on your children's plates. Let them ask for more. It's normal for children to explore foods. Young children often touch or smell the food on their plate.

Children thrive on routine. Just like you have a bedtime routine, stick to a feeding routine. Your child is less likely to be tired or fussy at mealtimes!

Offer healthy foods. Your child soon learns these are the foods in your home and will eventually eat!

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