The reasons some children are larger than their peers are multifold: heredity, age, bad food choices, lack of exercise, puberty, illness, and more. It is a constant struggle for adults and children to find a healthy balance in their daily eating schedules. After all, the body’s needs are different for different parts of life. If you’ve slept all day because of a cold, you’re not moving much. If you played basketball after school, you burned off a lot of calories. If you grab a bag of chips when you feel the hunger urge instead of a chunk of cheese – well, you get the idea.
According to a Kansas State University article, good eating habits start at birth. These habits provide optimal nutrition for infants that will benefit them throughout their lives. Healthy eating can reduce the risk of chronic illness and disease including the three leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, and stroke.
- 37 percent of Americans have cardiovascular disease.
- 34 percent of U.S. adults have hypertension, a major risk factor for stroke and heart disease.
- 36 percent of American adults have pre-hypertension: blood pressure numbers that are higher than normal, but not in the hypertension range yet.
- 41 percent of the population will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.
Now that we’ve gotten through the scary statistics, you can rest assured there are easy ways to eat healthy. Nasco’s Healthy Kids TearPad™ not only lists the amounts of good food you should eat daily, but also has great ideas for kid’s (and adult’s!) snacks. Here’s a few:
· Grab a glass of milk. A cup of low-fat or fat-free milk or milk alternative is an easy way to drink a healthy snack. (Low-fat yogurt is a good snack too!)
· Mix it up. For school-aged kids (especially older kids), mix dried fruit, unsalted nuts, and popcorn in a snack size bag for a quick trail mix.
· Fruits are quick and easy. Fresh, frozen, dried, or canned fruits are easy “grab-and-go” options that need little preparation.
· Nibble on lean protein. Choose lean protein foods such as low-sodium deli meats, unsalted nuts, or eggs. Wrap sliced, low-sodium deli turkey or ham around fruits or vegetables.
· Go for great whole grains. Offer whole-wheat breads, popcorn, and whole-oat cereals that are high in fiber and low in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium.
· Keep an eye on the size. Snacks shouldn’t replace a meal, so look for ways to help your kids understand how much is enough. Store snack-sized bags in the cupboard and use them to control serving sizes.
We all know the benefits of eating healthier and moving around more. Children (and their adult counterparts) need to find a balance between food and physical activity. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking in the back of the parking lot, or kicking around a soccer ball, all are easy ways to get your metabolism going.
Children will eventually stretch out, slim down, and fill out, but they will always need healthy hearts and lungs and bones. Controlling over-salted and over-sweet snacks, exercising in one form or another, and chowing down on fruit, cheese, and veggies is a great start to a healthy tomorrow!