4 Healthy Habits for Your Family, by Brittany Lightsey, MS, RD, LD
This year, The Children’s Hospital at Memorial University Medical Center has created a childhood wellness program to ensure that families in Savannah and the surrounding areas are adopting habits leading to long, healthy lives. From training pediatricians and cafeteria managers at your child’s school to involvement with the PTA Council, we are making sure that everyone involved with Chatham County’s children is equipped to promote healthy habits. September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and we want you to know that we are fighting an epidemic; more than 50 percent of the children in Chatham County are overweight or obese.1 Research suggests that this generation will be the first to not live as long as their parents. Let’s begin reversing this trend in Chatham County today! Here are some healthy habits for the whole family.
1. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are concentrated sources of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals that promote health and that our bodies need for growth and development. Try to incorporate a variety of colors of these fruits and vegetables into your family’s diet. Fiber is a key component in these food groups, too. It keeps our tummies feeling good, helps to keep us full, and can even regulate blood sugars and bind bad fats to wash them out of our bodies.
2. Drink more water.
Did you know that your body is mostly water? Sixty to 75 percent water, actually. This means that our bodies crave water when we are thirsty, and we need this water to stay hydrated. There are so many other drinks on the market right now – and many of these have added sugars and calories that do not benefit our bodies. What sugary drinks does your family drink? Some of the most popular are sodas, sports drinks, and juice. Did you know that a 20 ounce bottle of soda can have 15 teaspoons of sugar? That’s roughly the same amount at 18 chocolate chip cookies!
Let’s face the facts-not every kid (or adult)is a water lover. Spruce up your water it up by infusing it with fruits, vegetables and herbs. This will give it a delicious and nutritious boost. Try slicing cucumber paired with fresh mint, or water with strawberries and kiwis – yum!
How much water do kids need? Check out this Kid’s Eat Right article to find out.
3. Be active for 60 minutes per day.
Physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle because it promotes bone and heart health as well as muscle strength.
People often look at physical activity as an inconvenience, or just plain boring. To encourage your family to be active, make activities fun and be active together. Your child doesn’t like sports? That’s a-OK. There are plenty of other ways to be active. All it takes is a little creativity. Dancing to a couple of your favorite songs or push-up competitions during commercial breaks count as activity, too.
Remember, when playing games as a family, focus on playing rather than winning. This will keep a positive atmosphere, encouraging your children to want to be active.
4. Limit screen time to one hour per day.
In 2009, research estimated that American children spent more than 7.4 hours per day in front of a screen.2 Whether the screen is a television, computer or cellphone, each of these activities leads to excessive time sitting. It also encourages children to want unhealthier food. Most advertisements during hours where children watch the TV promote sugary cereals, snacks and fast food, causing children to want more. Think of screen time as a balance with physical activity. If your child is sitting for an hour, an hour of activity is needed to bring him back on track for a healthy day.
Be sure to check out our articles monthly on the School Food and Nutrition Website found on www.sccpss.com. These articles will highlight tips, tricks and recipes to keep your family happy and healthy!
- Savannah Business Group. Childhood Obesity in Chatham County. 2012 Community Report.
- Leachman Slawson D, Fitzgerald N, Morgan KT. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: The Role of Nutrition in Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2013;113:972-979.