Because children as young as four years old have been seen with blood sugar problems (a precursor to type 2 diabetes), parents are encouraged to teach kids about healthy eating habits and the importance of regular exercise and a healthy body weight. Here are four simple things you can do every day:
- Set the example. When your kids see you making healthier choices, they will want to do the same. Keep junk food out of the house, and encourage healthy snacking on low-sugar fruits, non-starchy veggies, protein, whole grains, healthy fats, legumes, nuts and seeds. Try to limit their sugar intake as best you can.
- Make exercise a priority. Research shows regular physical activity in childhood and adolescence improves strength and endurance, helps build healthy bones and muscles, supports a healthy weight, reduces anxiety and stress, increases self-esteem, and may improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels.i CDC guidelines recommend 60 minutes or more of physical exercise daily for children and adolescents.
- Set limits on TV & electronic media time. A Kaiser Foundation study found that kids and teens between the ages of 8 and 18 spend more than seven hours a day using electronic media.ii Instead of giving kids free reign over how much time they spend in front of the tube, surfing the web, or tapping away on their tablets or cell phones, establish some solid ground rules and stick to them.
- Make healthy snacking simple. At the beginning of each week, cut up plenty of fruits and veggies and keep kid-size portions in the fridge for easy snacking. The same goes for good protein sources such as turkey slices, nuts and nut butters, and plain Greek yogurt, since protein is important for growing bodies and will help keep your child’s appetite satisfied throughout the day.