11 Smart Ways To Raise Healthy Kids In New York
1. Encourage drinking plenty of water
When was the last time you checked how much water your kids are actually drinking? Being dehydrated can lead to obesity and lethargy, which does our kids no favors if they are trying to be active and stay focused with homework. Many kids may only be drinking at mealtimes and only waiting until they are thirsty to drink. Water and milk are the best options and avoiding sugary, high-calorie drinks should be your goal.
They should be drinking 6-8 glasses of water per day, but you can help them along by encouraging these fruits and veggies that contain more than 90% water:
The bonus is these foods can make them feel full and satisfied compared to water, and may help reduce consumption of unhealthy snacks too!
2. Improve their sleep
Research has linked a host of problems to lack of sleep - issues such as hyperactivity, inattention, lethargy, and impulsivity are just a few. Children up to age 4 need 12-14 hours a night, ages 5-12 need 10-11 hours and teens need 8-10 hours. Many kids are looking at screens just prior to bedtime but research shows that the LED light emitted from screens slows the brain’s production of melatonin, our body’s natural sleep hormone. You can help by having a routine bedtime and limiting screens for 2 hours leading up to it.
Make bedrooms a screen-free area and consider using a regular alarm clock instead of a phone…it is simply too tempting to pick it up! It may help to let your kids be part of the bedtime routine by choosing quiet activities they enjoy. Bedtime can be a special way to connect one-on-one away from other distractions, and leaves them with a loving and secure feeling as they drift off to sleep.
3. Help them with healthy eating
As much as we wish our kids would naturally gravitate to healthy foods, the healthy eating really starts with us. Be a role model for your kids by showing them how you make healthy choices in what you buy and eat. Take your kids grocery shopping so they are exposed to many food options and can help with choosing healthy foods.
Gradually swap out unhealthy snacks at home with better, options. Try placing less healthy snacks on upper shelves and avoid using treats or candy as incentives or rewards. Cutting up fruit ahead of time for kids to grab from the fridge or table while you are preparing meals can also help. There is plenty of research that shows that eating together as a family several times a week (with no distracting screens) promotes healthier eating habits, better academic performance, and higher self-esteem. There is so much to know about nutrition – The USDA’s healthy eating website is a great place to start.