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A lot of folks these days are trying to make smarter choices about what they eat. Why? Because the reality is that everything is related to what we put on our plate—digestive problems, cholesterol, weight gain—and statistics show that as a country our poor eating habits have been the driving force behind a rise in obesity and obesity-related disease that has reached epidemic proportions.

In an effort to lose weight and improve their health, many Americans are paying more and more attention to food labels, and it seems their attentiveness is paying off. Experts recently analyzed data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and found that people who look at things like ingredients, serving size and nutrition facts are likely to be healthier than their non-label-reading counterparts.

Specifically, label readers consume fewer calories and more fiber in their daily diet, along with less sugar, sodium, saturated fat and cholesterol, and as a result they tend to be slimmer and in better shape overall. Health experts hope that as more and more people start paying attention to labels, food manufacturers will do their part and clearly display important nutrition information. So here’s to smart reading and smart eating!

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It’s a daily struggle for moms and dads everywhere: getting kids to make healthy choices when all they want to do is gobble down fast food and spend hours in front of the television. But the good news is that by teaching them early about the importance of healthy dietary and lifestyle habits, you can give your children the tools they need to become healthier adults. Here are some quick tips to help you get started:

Don’t Forget the Fiber

A high-fiber diet provides countless benefits for growing bodies, including heart health, better digestion, and even healthy weight management. Fiber-rich foods help manage hunger by supporting healthy blood sugar levels, and they typically have a lower energy density (the number of calories in a particular volume of food) than foods with fewer grams of fiber, which means they pack fewer calories per bite. Most experts recommend that kids eat their “age plus 5” in grams of fiber every day, so a natural fiber supplement can help make up for what they don’t get from their diet.

Prepare Healthy Snacks Beforehand

Sure, store-bought snacks are convenient, but are they healthy? For most pre-packaged goodies, the answer is no. Instead, many are heavily processed and contain high amounts of refined sugar but very little nutritional value. Your best bet is to set aside some time each week to prepare healthy snack options—think chopped fruits and veggies, cheese slices or homemade trail mix—them keep them on hand in the fridge or pantry for a quick, wholesome snack anytime.

Get Active

According to the National Institutes of Health, kids should get at least one hour of physical exercise every day to help build healthy bones and keep muscles and joints strong and flexible. Regular exercise can also help burn calories and promote healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Getting active can also help ease stress, increase mental clarity and boost their self-esteem—not to mention help kids sleep better at night!

Set the Example

When all is said and done, the surest way to teach kids about better habits is to set the example. Make healthy eating and regular exercise a part of your daily life, and be sure to talk to your kids about good nutrition and how it will help their bodies now and in the future. The more they know, the healthier your kids will be, and soon making smart choices will be second nature!

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