6 Healthy Habits for Children, Teens & Families
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By Kristen Schroeder-Brown, RN-BSN, CHES, CDE, Holy Cross Hospital, Community Outreach Department
Healthy habits are important to living a long and healthy life. Below are 6 healthy habits that children, teens and adults can engage in to help them achieve a healthy lifestyle.
Healthy Habit #1 – Always Eat Breakfast
It is important to always start the day with breakfast. A well-balanced breakfast consists of: protein, fruit, grains, and a vegetable. Make sure your grains are whole grains, some examples are: whole grain bread or oatmeal. Switch to 1% or skim milk, instead of 2% or whole milk. Try to change up the breakfast routine and try something new. If you are in a rush, take breakfast with you.
There are countless studies over the past 30 years that suggest eating a healthy well-balanced breakfast can improve memory and concentration, as well as boost your creativity and problem-solving skills. Additionally, eating breakfast everyday can help to raise test scores and improve work performance. There are many myths out there about breakfast. The most common myth is: “if I skip breakfast I will lose weight”. However, this statement is false. In multiple studies, the researchers have found that skipping breakfast places you at an increased risk of being overweight.
Healthy Habit #2 – Make Your Plate Colorful
Make sure your plate has a lot of color, by adding in fruits and vegetables. Try to aim for 2 servings of vegetables with every dinner. Make healthy smoothies using vegetables and fruits. Always have fruits and vegetables available for kids to eat.
Fruits and vegetables are important because they help the body to grow. There are a lot of benefits to eating more fruits and vegetables. For instance, eating more vegetables can help you heal when you are sick or can even help prevent you from getting sick in the first place. Fruits and vegetables can also give you the energy you need to play, study or work.
Healthy Habit #3 – Rethink Your Drinks
It is important to eliminate sweetened beverages. Drinks containing sugar can lead to tooth decay, weaker bones, and even type 2 diabetes. Additionally, drinking sweetened beverages, such as sodas, sports drinks, or energy drinks can cause you to gain weight and to crave even more sugar.
It is important to drink lots of water. Always carry water with you and make sure to drink it throughout the day. Save the sodas, sports drinks, or energy drinks for special occasions. Be careful with fruit juice; Even 100% fruit juice contains a lot of sugar. Instead of drinking juice, eat the fresh fruit, as it has more nutrients. Drink water or milk (1% or skim) at meals and snack time.
Healthy Habit #4 – Enjoy Meals Together
Studies have shown that families who eat regular meals together are more likely to do well in school, stay away from drugs and alcohol, and maintain a healthy weight. Family meals can be hard to arrange, but it is well worth it.
Schedule an appointment for family dinner. Have everyone help with the preparing and cooking of the food. Even young children can help with simple things like, pouring, mixing or washing foods if needed. Try to limit the amount of fast food. Try to eat meals together in the kitchen or dining room, so that you can enjoy each other’s company.
Healthy Habit #5 – Make Physical Activity Fun
Researchers suggest that children and teens need at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each day. Regular physical activity can lead to better energy, stronger muscles, less stress, weight management, and can even reduce the risk of developing chronic health conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes.
Allow for a lot of active time throughout the day. Have balls, jump ropes, or bikes around to remind children to keep moving. Engage in physical activity as a family. Walk each night after dinner or play tag in the yard. Go to a local park or recreation center. Stretch each day to help with flexibility. Do strength exercises at least two times a week, such as lifting weights or using a resistance band.
Healthy Habit #6 – Sleep Well
Studies have shown that most children, teens and adults do not get enough sleep. Researchers have found that lack of sleep may lead you to have more colds, behavioral issues, trouble with paying attention in school, problems with memory, and become overweight.
Know how much sleep everyone in the family needs. Typically every night, preschools need about 11 hours, children need about 10 hours, teens need about 9 hours, and adults need about 8 hours. It is important to make a routine and stick with it.
Kristen Schroeder-Brown, RN-BSN, CHES, CDE is a Certi ed Diabetes Educator in the Community Outreach Department of Holy Cross Hospital. She specializes in Diabetes Prevention and Diabetes Self-Management. She is also a Master Trainer Select and Lifestyle Coach for the National Diabetes Prevention Program. She holds a BS in Health Education and a second BS in Nursing.
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