10 Most Important Healthy Habits for Kids
Along with the focus on fruits and veggies, we have comprised 10 Top Pillars of Health we find important! With so much conflicting information, and so many different steps you can take towards a childs good health, we feel like these ten things have the most impact and have been supported by the most science!
- Eat less sugar! The average child gets 16% of their total calories from added sugars, a whopping 10 teaspoons per day! Added sugar has been linked to childhood obesity, chronic diseases, behavior problems, and more! Keep this number between 0-5%!
- Make half your meal fruits and vegetables! Increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables in all their forms and varieties have been linked to stronger immunity, lower incidences of cancer, lower weight and more! A balanced meal comes naturally when kids consume half their meal fruits and veggies! Kids who eat fruits and veggies at every meal are filling up on high fiber, high nutrient, low calorie foods, in the right portions.
- Eat a variety of proteins! Protein is vital to children’s growing brains and bodies! Protein isn’t only obtained from chicken! Seafood, poultry, lean beef, eggs, dairy, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds are all good protein sources and should all be included in a child’s diet.
- Include fish once per week. Fish is high in omega 3 fats, like DHA, which is vital for brain development. In addition, omega 3’s are being linked to reduced inflammation in patients with asthma, arthritis, and eczema. Low consumption of Omega 3’s is common in kids and is a risk factor for disease and behavior problems.
- Choose whole grains! You can still eat whole grains! But don’t let this be a reason to exclusively feed your kids bread 7-11 times per day. Instead, there are delicious alternatives that are much better for them. Brown rice, millet, barley, wild rice, bulgur, etc.
- Stick to 4 meals per day! Kids who are allowed to graze on food all day, do not have the appetite or desire to try new foods. It’s OK for children to be hungry, and even encouraged! When mealtime comes, they will be less picky and healthy food will actually taste better.
- Limit sodium. Kids should eat less than 1500mg of sodium per day, a little more than 1/2 teaspoon. Too much sodium puts children at risk for high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and even kidney disease. Being vigilant about checking labels and avoid adding salt where possible, in favor of herbs and spices is an easy way to stay below the recommendation.
- Limit processed foods. Processed foods are any foods you find that are pre-made, packaged, and often require chemicals, food dyes, preservatives, added fats, and added sugars just to be able to keep it on the store shelves without getting spoiled. Children who eat and have access to processed foods eat less fruits and vegetables and develop eating habits that lead to obesity and poor health. Making your food from scratch, planning your meals, shopping the perimeter of the store, and growing your own foods are easy ways to eliminate the need for processed foods.
- Drink Water! Water is vital for children. The major source for added sugar for children is sugar sweetened beverages. Sugar sweetened beverages have been blamed for many of the health problems plaguing children today, including childhood obesity. These beverages also replace foods that have nutrients and fiber, which children need to grow.
- Sleep well and play hard! When kids spend their day playing outside, rather than in front of a screen, they sleep better, they have less behavior problems, they are happier and even have better self image.
We believe that as you teach these things to your children, implement them into daily living, and let it be a part of your life, your kids will be healthier, happier, and they will learn the habits necessary for lifetime wellness!