Four Practices for Parents to Promote Healthy Habits

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Parents, watch what you eat!  When it comes to certain behaviors – eating is one of them – parents are the “key influencers” to kids behaviors. If you skip meals, eat too much sugar and fat, your kids will likely do the same. Research recently showed kids who ate more fruits and vegetables had parents that did the same.

This morning registered dietitian Pat Baird stopped by our studio to give us four practices to promote healthy eating.

We’re not talking about genetics, rather, it’s about role-modeling!  Lifestyle behaviors contribute to better health, improved focus and concentration, less illness and absenteeism. What parents and caregivers do – eating, sleeping, activity etc. – can likely have the greatest influence on child’s health and development.

One in three children is overweight and nearly 17% of US kids are considered obese; one-third of adults are too. That increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure, according to the National Institutes of health. Improve parental behaviors gets them AND their kids healthier.

This segment focuses on four practices for parents to start immediately. These things help parents and kids stay healthy.

Start with Breakfast!

  • Buckets of research show it’s the most important meal
  • Breakfast eaters – of all ages – weigh less, focus better, are absent less etc.
  • Make it simple, make it portable: cereal, sandwich, yogurt & fruit
  • Choose better fats: LF/skim milk, soft spreads instead of butter, LF cheeses (and cold cuts)

Foods to Include: Rely on MyPlate

  • Simple visual shows what to serve at home; what to order in restaurants
  • Look at special needs of kids: calcium, vitamin D, iron, and fiber
  • Fruits and veggies are essential; Sept is Fruits & Veggies More Matters Month
  • Great opportunity to teach kids to cook  Make it a game to keep it fun

Get More Sleep:

  • Research shows adequate sleep (7-9 hours 10-12 for kids!) is essential to better health
  • Lack of sleep contributes to weight gain, absenteeism, lack of focus, etc.
  • Set a routine for the family
  • Monitor electronics; kids: no texting under the covers!

Make it Fun: Track it With Apps:

  • Mobile calorie trackers, phone-based pedometers
  • My Food-a-Pedia (searches 1,000 foods, gives info on each)
  • Use cell phone camera as a food diary
  • Make this a family activity

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