The healthy habits your child develops before the age of 12 often means good habits for life, which can set him or her up for a much happier and healthy adulthood. This is one of the best gifts you can give your child – it’s essential to do something now in order to help them develop healthy practices for life.
Ditch the soda
One of the worst things kids can put into their growing bodies is soda. Sugar-sweetened beverages like pop are not only a significant factor in the obesity epidemic, but they’re also connected to behavioral problems among teens and even very young children. Research has found that among kids as young as 5, those that drink soda showed increased aggression and have difficulty paying attention, compared to those who don’t consume those unhealthy, sugar-packed beverages.
A 2011 study published in the journal Injury Prevention found that teens who drank more than five cans of soda every week were significantly more likely to have carried a weapon and acted violently toward their peers, family members and dates. Recent research has also found that consuming those types of beverages was linked to all types of aggressive or mood-related behaviors like fighting, sadness and depression or even feelings of hopelessness that sometimes lead to being suicidal.
One of the best things you can do right now is to ditch the soda out of your refrigerator and your pantry. Remember that children learn by example, so if they see you drinking it, they’ll most likely make the same choice. Instead, drink lots of water and encourage your kids to do the same thing. You can spice things up by adding a little lemon juice or a fresh orange slice. Flavored herbal teas are also a great option. They’re easy to make into iced teas too.
Let the kids help in the kitchen
Getting your child involved in making healthy meals is a great way to encourage good eating habits. You might even sit down and plan one or two meals a week together and pick out the healthy ingredients at the grocery store. It’s a great opportunity to spend time together as well as to teach them about nutrition. Talk about the types of foods they like and identify alternatives to foods that contain empty calories.
Once in the kitchen, involve your child in food prep by letting him or her take charge of something simple like a salad. Provide lots of healthy ingredients, but ultimately let your child decide what gets into the bowl. They’ll be much more likely to enjoy it come dinner time.
Get the whole family involved in physical activities
Regular exercise is essential for a healthy, growing body. If you’re lying on the couch watching TV for hours, odds are your kids will want to do the same. Get into the habit of taking a walk together as a family after dinner and going for hikes or bike rides on the weekend. When inclement weather hits, take the opportunity to make normally sedentary activities active, such as choosing video games with built-in physical activities.
Set a good example by walking more often too, such as walking to the grocery store instead of driving, or parking further back in the parking lot to get some extra steps in for the day.
Encouraging healthy habits now, rather than later, gives your child the best odds for a much happier and healthier life for many years to come.
-The Alternative Daily