Healthy kids start with healthy habits
In today's world of busy schedules, fast food and video games, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. Lifestyle changes such as eating out more often with less meals cooked at home, children spending less time playing outdoors and more time in front of the television, and portion sizes that have grown to well over twice the size they once were in past years have all contributed to the childhood obesity crisis.
As parents, we are our child's first role model and have the sole responsibility of laying the foundation for healthy lifelong eating habits in our children. Children learn by example. If children grow up seeing their parents eating healthy foods, they will also do the same.
Research has shown that children who eat family meals at home with their parents have better nutrition and are less likely to get into serious trouble as teenagers. Family meals are a great opportunity to model healthy eating habits in front of your children. Providing a variety of healthy options on the dinner table for children to pick from and allowing them to make their own choices will in turn make them more enthusiastic about eating healthy.
It is important to remember that children will eat what is readily available to them. A child will more likely eat from a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter then one put away in a drawer in your refrigerator. Also, by providing readily available snack-size baggies with cut up fresh fruit or veggies, it will allow your child to make a healthy choice and learn about portion sizes.
Along with eating healthy, incorporating family exercise is crucial in raising a healthy child. A family bike ride, an evening walk, or some time spent swimming in a pool, will not only get your child moving but will more importantly teach your child that exercise can be fun and should be a part of your daily life.
Raising a healthy child today in this time of chicken nuggets, Happy Meals, and soft drinks is a challenge for parents, but making small changes in your everyday food choices will make a big difference in your child's lifelong healthy food habits. It's never too late to start! Thanks for reading!
Cornerstone Preschool, 1098 S. 5th Ave., offers structured academic programs and care for children through pre-Kindergarten. For more information, call 782-1995.
Recipe for Baked Sweet Potato Fries (great alternative to French fries)
Cut up sweet potatoes in strips or slices.
Toss them into mixing bowl.
Sprinkle them lightly with corn starch.
Spray them with vegetable or olive oil and add salt, pepper, and spices (paprika, cayenne pepper, or garlic)
Spread them out in an even layer on nonstick cookie sheet.
Bake them in the oven at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes, flip them over and bake for another 10 - 15 minutes or until they start to brown and become crispy.