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Last week, we talked about becoming more active. This week, we talk about the fuel that gives you the energy to move – food.
Food is the fuel for your body in the same way that gas makes a car go. The healthier you eat, the better your body goes. Food helps you in many ways from competing in sports to playing with your friends to just thinking better at school.
You need food, and lots of different kinds, to be at your best. Don't skip meals, it's bad for body. And make your meals count, there are certain choices you can make to become a healthier kid.
To be at your best, make sure your plate looks like this:
Drink six to eight glasses of water a day. Water is the only liquid your body really needs!
Tip: Pick out a favorite or special glass to always use for drinking water.
Tip: Have water breaks – set six times a day to have one glass of water.
For example, drink a glass when you wake up every morning. Have a glass of water before or during every meal. Drink a couple of glasses at school. Drink one glass of water as soon as you get home from school. Make it a habit!
Decrease your sugar by drinking only three sodas a week. Start a soda countdown, three- two- one.
Tip: If you drink more water, you'll drink less soda.
Tip: Once you've decreased the number of sodas you drink, maybe you can move toward drinking zero-calorie sodas or better yet – water.
This week's Checkup Challenge topic is focused on eating right. As parents, we must remember to lead by example and do our best to make sure our children are eating healthy.
There's a lot of great information about healthy eating. A great resource is myPyramid.gov.
For our purposes though, we will look at a tool that Cook Children's dietitians use often – the "plate method."
This method reminds us of how to fill our plate:
Be careful though because plates can be too big. Our nutritionists recommend using a salad plate on most nights, and saving the big dishes for special occasions like Thanksgiving or Christmas. Check out the serving size chart on the next page for some interesting visuals.
Talk to your kids about what makes up the different food groups. Be sure to not use words like "bad foods" though. It's better to focus on moderation, with an emphasis on making healthier choices.
It's probably unrealistic to avoid unhealthy foods altogether, but try to make those the exception instead of the rule. Encourage your kids to try lots of different foods to see what they like best. Offer different choices at home. For vegetables, mix it up with greens, oranges and reds. The same goes for fruit. It's also a good idea to make similar choices for yourself. It won't make sense if the rest of the family is having pizza and the child participating in Checkup Challenge is having a grilled chicken sandwich on whole wheat bread.
When it comes to meat or protein, make sure it's lean with choices such as turkey, baked fish or grilled chicken. Offer baked potatoes instead of French fries, and wheat bread instead of white.
Along with healthy eating, what your child drinks can be just as important. Encourage zero calorie drinks such as water or low-fat drinks such as skim or 1 percent milk. Instead of drinking juice, have your child eat fruit instead. Avoid or limit sodas. There is no nutritional value in soda and the sugar content is extremely high. Soda also eats away at the enamel teeth and can cause damage.
Don't forget about breakfast. You know it's the most important meal of the day. Breakfast gets your kids' metabolism going and allows them to focus on school, instead of their growling tummies.
In week three, Checkup Challenge will focus on teaching kids to make better choices when it comes to eating.
To make it simple, Cook Children's nutritionists use the "plate method:"
Let's take a look at each group:
Fruits and veggies: They provide important nutrients, such as vitamins, potassium and fibers. It's important for the bulk of kids' diets to come from this group. Explain that this includes breakfast. You can add in fruits, such as bananas, strawberries and blueberries to oatmeal, cold cereal, pancakes or waffles.
Tell your kids that they can eat fresh, frozen, canned or dried vegetables as long as they are prepared in a healthy way (like steaming or grilling). Focus on eating a lot of different colored vegetables and fruits, with an emphasis on dark green vegetables (broccoli and spinach) and orange ones (carrots).
Encourage fruit as a healthy snack and to eat fruit instead of drinking juice, which is often full of added sugar.
Starches and grains: For the purpose of the program, this includes beans, corn, peas and potatoes (starchy vegetables). Talk about the various foods in this group: bread, pasta, rice, cereal and oatmeal. Foods such as breads (especially whole wheat or whole grain), pasta, rice and cereal are examples of good starches/grains.
But this group also can be unhealthy if kids eat a lot of sweets, such as cookies and cakes, because of the high fat and sugar content.
Meats: The key here is lean protein, which includes pork, grilled chicken (preferably without the skin), turkey and fish. But it also includes beans and breakfast foods like nuts and peanut butter (which can also be eaten as snacks in small amounts). It's best for kids to limit foods like fried chicken, fried fish, refried beans and hot dogs because of the extra fat.
What to drink: Ideally, your kids should be drinking zero-calorie drinks. Sodas and most juices have too much sugar. It would be best for the kids to drink skim milk or water. Talk to your kids about drinks that have too much sugar and little to no nutritional value, like sodas.
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