Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kids Nutrition and Healthy Eating

As Childhood Obesity Awareness Month winds down, let's explore healthy eating for kids. When you can start healthy eating habits at a young age, they are likely to continue until adulthood. If you have children whose eating habits are not so great, you can change them to become more healthy.

There are many strategies that can improve nutrition and encourage healthy eating habits in children of all ages. Below are just a few of the top strategies that will help not only the kids in the family, but the adults, too

Family Meals
Children love and thrive on routine. Eating together as a family is a great way for everyone to catch up on the day's activity and connect with each other. Kids who take part in regular family meals are also:
•more likely to eat fruits, vegetables, and grains
•less likely to snack on unhealthy foods
•less likely to smoke, use marijuana, or drink alcohol
Family meals also offer the chance to introduce kids to new foods and to act as a role model for healthy eating.

Having Healthy Food Available

As simple as it sounds, just having healthy foods available at home will increase the likelihood that kids will eat them. They will eat whatever is available, so if you have a lot of junk food, they will eat that instead. Make sure your kids eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and make them a part of very meal. Healthy snacks in addition to fruits and vegetables could include cheese, low-fat yougurt and peanut butter. Lean meats and other protein sources such as eggs, nuts and fish, along with whole-grain carbs (breads, crackers, cereals) that have higher amounts of fiber, will round out a healthy diet. Limiting fat, sugar and low-nutrient snacks such as chips and cookies, will help too. Allowing kids a "treat" once in a while is a good idea so they don't feel completely deprived.

Be a Role Model

Kids will follow their parents' lead. When you eat will, your kids will do the same. Send your kids the right message by eating fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods, limiting the junk and eating appropriate portion sizes. A great part of this is that it will help you maintain or achieve a healthy weight.

Avoid Battles Over Food

Do not use food as a bargaining tool with your kids or bribe them with it. It's okay to give kids some control over what they eat. When it's snack time, offer several choices. Establish a consistent snack and meal schedule but also allow your kids to decide when they are hungry. If they skip a snack, they will know the next meal is coming at the regular time. Don't force kids to clean their plates and don't use dessert as a reward for finishing a meal. Keep mostly healthy foods at home and remember that treats are okay every once in a while.

Let Kids Help Make Decisions

When planning dinners, ask your kids to help decide what to include in the meals. Make it fun and let them help you in the kitchen, with some of the food preparation or setting and clearing the table. Let them also help decide what goes in their lunch boxes. Give them healthy choices, but allow them to pick exactly what they get to take with them and eat during the day. Getting them involved like this as children will give them good habits that they will be able to continue when they become adults.

Along with exercise and regular activity, your child will be well-balanced and healthy by following these guidelines. Exploramania wants to help you and your kids maintain a healthy lifestyle with its interactive educational experiences. Check out our website for more info and join our Facebook fan page for regular updates, current information and free Exploracise Gymathtics DVD giveaways that will help your kids achieve these goals.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Kids Exercise

This month we are focusing on overcoming the childhood obesity epidemic. September is the first ever Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. To lose weight, you must eat less and exercise more. It sounds so simple, yet there are many reasons why it is anything but easy to achieve.

In addition to helping a child lose weight and get (or stay) fit, there are many benefits of exercise. Kids who are active will:

•have stronger muscles and bones
•have a leaner body because exercise helps control body fat
•be less likely to become overweight
•decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
•possibly lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels
•have a better outlook on life

In addition to enjoying the health benefits of regular exercise, kids who are physically fit sleep better and are better able to handle physical and emotional challenges — from running to catch a bus to studying for a test.

In today's society, kids tend to engage in sedentary activites, such as watching TV, playing video games, and being on the computer, much more so than in previous decades. Parents can help their kids and encourage them to be more active by limiting screen time. It is recommended that children under the age of 2 watch no TV. Children ages 2 and up should not watch more than 1 -2 hours of TV per day, and when the do watch, it should be quality programs or DVDs such as the award-winning Exploracise Gymathtics series by Exploramania, which, by the way, will give them an opportunity to be active WHILE they watch these 30 minute DVDs.

Children should engage in 1 - 2 hours of activity per day, whether it is unstructured play or some kind of planned exercise such as a sport or a PE class at school.

It's not always easy getting your kids to be active, but if you make it part of their daily routine, keep it fun, choose activities that they enjoy, and give them a variety of different activities you will find that it becomes a part of their lifestyle. As parents, be sure to set a good example by being active, too, and combine the exercise for you and your kids, with healthy eating habits, so that your entire family can enjoy a healthy lifesyle.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Childhood Obesity Awareness

September is the first ever Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Childhood obesity has become such a problem that we now have an entire month devoted to awareness about it. According to the CDC, Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. The prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 years increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008. The prevalence of obesity among adolescents aged 12 to 19 years increased from 5.0% to 18.1%. It is of such importance to our country, that there is a Presidential Proclamation encouraging Americans to take action now. You can read it here.

The CDC explains that obesity is the result of caloric imbalance (too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed) and is mediated by genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors. Childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term health impacts:

-Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. In a population-based sample of 5- to 17-year-olds, 70% of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
-Children and adolescents who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.
-Obese youth are more likely than youth of normal weight to become overweight or obese adults, and therefore more at risk for associated adult health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.

A healthy lifestyle, including healthy eating and physical activity can lower the risk of becoming obese and developing related diseases mentioned above. There is a wealth of information available to help in these areas.

If you have a child who is obese, take steps to help him/her get back to a healthy weight. If your child's weight is acceptable, be proactive by encouraging healthy habits so that obesity does not occur later in life.

As the month continues, we will highlight specific ways you can help your kids maintain or achieve healthy habits. It's not an easy thing to do. There is so much in society today that draws our children away from healthy habits, but fortunately there are many ways you can help. We talk a lot in this blog about Exploramania's award-winning Exploracise Gymathtics DVD. It's a great way to get physical activity that is fun and educational. There is so much else out there that we want to discuss with you. So stay tuned and be assured that Exploramania is concerned and wants to help.