Let’s get healthy – recommendations for healthy eating and living

Parents, did you know that over 30 percent of America’s school-age youngsters are now overweight? Why is that? Food is more plentiful and more convenient than ever before. Fast-food restaurants are everywhere, and portion sizes are becoming huge. And with the invention of TV, the Internet, and labor-saving devices, we just don’t move anymore. Kids used to play outside and be more involved with sports. Now, TV, video games, and the Internet have made everyone more sedentary.

Being overweight can contribute to physical problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease even in young children. Being overweight also limits a child’s athletic abilities and impairs self-esteem. Here is a summary of recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association for healthy living and eating:

  • Eat at least five vegetables and fruits every day.
  • Drink water or unsweetened beverages in place of sweetened beverages. Sweetened beverages include juices, soda and sports drinks. Juice is not healthy as many people think.
  • Use vegetable oil, canola, corn oil or safflower oil instead of solid fats such as butter and lard when cooking.
  • Eat more beans and tofu in place of meats.
  • Use lean meats. Remove the skin from chicken before cooking or eating.
  • Eat whole-grain breads and cereals instead of refined products.
  • Serve fish as an entrée at least twice a week. Serve fish broiled or baked.
  • Use nonfat or low-fat milk and dairy products daily.
  • Drink six to eight glasses of water each day.
  • Remember portion size when serving your kids. The size of the meat should be about the size of the palm of the child’s hand.
  • Perform 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous play or physical activity daily. This includes walking, riding a bike or playing outside.
  • Limit TV and video games to less than two hours each day.

Sound hard? Not if you incorporate these routines into your daily living and everyone in your family participates. Remember, as parents, you determine what you buy in the grocery store and what you serve to your children. Do your best to keep them healthy.