5. Eat Fewer Snacks and Select Healthier Alternatives

Healthy snacks help kids and teens refuel

Healthy snacks in between main meals help kids and teens meet their daily nutritional needs.
Young children have smaller stomachs than adults, so they need to eat every few hours to keep up their energy levels and get the right amount of nutrients.  Teens get particularly hungry during periods of fast development and snacks are important.
Snacks based on fruit and vegies, reduced fat dairy products and whole grains are the healthiest choices.
It is important to limit snacks that are high in sugar or saturated fats – such as chips, cakes and chocolate – which can cause children to put on excess weight. These ‘extra foods’ should only be offered occasionally.

Diet Woman Kicking Donut Snacks on White

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4. Switch off the screen and get active

How much time in front of the screen?

When kids and teens spend time in front of small screens – whether it’s the TV, computer or hand-held games – it takes away from the time they could spend playing sport, games or being active.
Australian guidelines recommend that kids and teens spend no more than 2 hours each day on small screen entertainment, and breaking up long periods of use as often as possible.
While computers and TV can be valuable for education and learning, the health benefits, skills and enjoyment that kids and teens get from being physically active are just as important.

children-using-laptop

sleep Say big no to gadgets

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3. Eat more fruit and vegetables

All of us need to eat a variety of different coloured fruit and vegies every day – both raw and cooked. The recommended daily amount for kids and teens depends on their age, appetite and activity levels – see table below for recommended serves per day.

Fresh fruit is a better choice than juice

While whole fruit contains some natural sugars that make it taste sweet, it also has lots of vitamins, minerals and fibre, which makes it more filling and nutritious than a glass of fruit juice.

One small glass of juice provides a child’s recommended daily amount of vitamin C.  Unfortunately, many children regularly drink large amounts of juice and this can contribute to them putting on excess weight.

How to help kids and teens eat more fruit and vegies

Eating more fruit and vegies every day can sometimes be a struggle. However, research shows that we’re more likely to do so if they’re available and ready to eat.
Children may need to try new fruits and vegies up to 10 times before they accept them. So stay patient and keep offering them. It can also help to prepare and serve them in different and creative ways.

Top 10 fruits good for kids

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2. Choose water as a drink

Drinking water is the best way to quench your thirst. Even better, it doesn’t come with all the sugar and energy (kilojoules) found in fruit juice drinks, soft drinks, sports drinks and flavoured mineral waters.

Drinking water instead of sweetened drinks also prevents dental problems, while the fluoride found in tap water can help strengthen teeth and bones.

Fruit juice

Giving kids and teens whole fruit to eat is a better choice than offering fruit juice to drink.

While whole fruit contains some natural sugars, which make it taste sweet, it also has lots of vitamins, minerals and fibre, which makes it more filling and nutritious than a glass of fruit juice.

One small glass of juice provides a child’s recommended daily amount of vitamin C.  Unfortunately, many children regularly drink large amounts of juice and this can contribute to them putting on excess weight.

 

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1. Get active each day

How much activity?

Kids and teens should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day, including vigorous activities that make them ‘huff and puff’. They can get even more health benefits from doing several hours of physical activity every day.

Kids and teens should do strenghtening activities at least three days of the week.  Strengthening activities, such as climbing, jumping, running or playing tug-o-war, help to build muscle and strong bones.

To help kids and teens be active every day, they need opportunities for sport, play and exercise at school, after school and on weekends.

Physical activity doesn’t all have to happen at the one time. It can be accumulated throughout the day; by walking or riding to and from school, being involved in activities at school, active play at home or taking part in organised sport after school and on weekends.

Children who don’t get enough physical activity are at a greater risk of becoming overweight or obese. This makes it harder for them to be active and keep up in sport or play.

Being overweight can also make kids more prone to conditions such as asthma, flat feet and joint sprains. In the long term, it can contribute to conditions such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes and liver disease.

Research tells us that the warning signs for these conditions can be present in overweight teenagers as young as 15 years of age.

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5 Ways to a Healthy Lifestyle

With good food habits and daily physical activity you will be well on your way to a healthy life.  Easy to say, but sometimes not so easy to do!

Our busy lifestyles can be hard on our family’s health. Rushing to and from school and work can make it hard to find time to be physically active. We can also slip into the habit of choosing unhealthy snacks and take-away foods or spending our free time watching TV or in front of the computer.

However, these choices can be dangerous for our health and our children’s health – both now and in the long-term. That’s why it’s so important to stop, take stock and make a conscious decision to follow a healthy lifestyle.

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