Children are the future! So it is very important to ensure they have all the best opportunities to grow and develop into strong, healthy and happy individuals. Unlike most adults, children cannot choose what to eat, what to do or where to live.
They also usually have a limited ability to understand the long-term consequences of their behaviour health-wise. Therefore it is very important that we as adults help them with a solid and healthy basis for their future. And luckily we can do that in many ways.
Sweet child of mine
More than 50% of children get too much sugar in their diet. The biggest part of the sugar comes from sweets, cakes and ice cream, but fizzy drinks and juice are also big contributors. It is recommended that the intake of sugar by children is below 10% of their total daily energy intake. For smaller children, that is approx. 25–30 grams of sugar per day, and for school children it is approx. 45–55 grams per day, maximum. In comparison, most fizzy drinks contain more than 30 grams of sugar per serving.
Too much sugar is bad because it will give you a lot of calories and it takes up space from essential nutrients like vitamins, protein and minerals leading to overweight and malnutrition. Also, sugar feed the harmful bacteria in your mouth, which can lead to tooth decay. Eating too much sugar can also lead to diabetes, overweight, obesity, metabolic problems, fatty liver and cardiovascular disease.
Help your children cut down on their sugar intake by offering them water or milk instead of fizzy drinks or juice. Give them fruit instead of sweets. Make your own ice cream instead of buying ice cream. Or try natural yoghurt instead of fruit yoghurt.
Reduce screen time
Too much time in front of the television, Ipad, Playstation etc. can be bad for your child’s health. When they sit in from of the screen, their physical activity level drops, and so does their metabolic rate. This increases the risk of obesity and other lifestyle diseases. So help your child by setting rules for this kind of sedentary activity. For example make a rule, that screens are not allowed when eating (this also applies to the adults), or agree that screens are only allowed for 1 or 2 hours per day – or whatever makes sense in your household. And help them find something else to do instead, so there is always a fun and healthier alternative to the screen.
5 ways to healthier family habits:
1) Remember to listen to your child’s needs. Some overweight children find it very difficult and uncomfortable to participate in physical activity. So find something that they like to do. Make it a fun activity for everyone.
2) Endorse healthy eating habits. Make sure your child gets a solid breakfast every morning, a healthy lunch and dinner – including lots of vegetables, some fruit, whole grains, lean protein and vegetable fat.
3) Drink plenty of water! Keep fizzy drinks for parties and birthdays, and drink water or milk on regular days.
4) Set rules for sedentary activities like watching TV, playing video games and using iPads.
5) Include physical activities in daily family routines. Plan family activities that include walking, biking, playing soccer or going swimming. Children should be physically active for at least 60 minutes each day.
Quote from Karina:
“I try setting a good example to my children. We love to stay active together – for example my son often follows me on my afternoon runs in the forrest, I run and he takes his bike. It is a fun way to spend time together, enjoy the nature, and get some exercise”.
Did you know
- That childhood development depends on the interaction between genes and environmental variables? For example, a child may have the genes to grow tall, but if it doesn’t have the proper nutrition, it may never achieve full height.
- That from ages three to eight, children’s brain tissue uses twice as much energy as adult brain tissue? A five-year-old child weighing 44 pounds requires 860 calories a day. Half of that energy goes to the brain.
- That globally, 81% of adolescents aged 11–17 years were insufficiently physically active in 2010? Adolescent girls were less active than adolescent boys, with 84% versus 78% not meeting WHO recommendations.