In our book, Healing Bermuda, we gave away 10 tips for raising healthy kids. With the start of school, we wanted to highlight the top tips to help you create healthy habits for your child(ren) to give them a jump start to a successful school year.
Avoid all juice and fruit drinks. As a pediatrician I am always asking parents what their child is eating or drinking. Occasionally, parents will admit that they have slipped some juice into their child’s diet before they are a year old. This is primarily because many parents still think of juice as a healthy choice. It is easy to understand the confusion, as the industry has marketed fruit juice in such a way that parents come away believing it to be a healthy alternative. They market fruit juice as being packed full of vitamins, made from real fruit, and that of course, fruit is good for your baby. But, what they do not tell you is that with all the sugars that are in juice, not only are you setting children up for weight issues, but also dental issues, like cavities. Of course, parents don’t set out to intentionally harm their children, or at least most don’t, so the offering of juice is normally a gesture of faith set in good intentions. The industry is misleading and won’t tell you that juice is quite harmful to your child’s health. I encourage parents not to give their children juice at all, and certainly not before the age of three. Some recommendations say you can have four ounces a day, but that can run you into trouble if you have the juice at home in your fridge. When the juice is in the fridge it is very hard to regulate how much juice everyone is getting. I have a three-year-old and a one-and-a-half-year-old, so I know the struggle of trying to reduce the amount of sugar they consume. Although we do not have any juice in the house and have not for years, juice is often offered at schools, birthday parties, and other social events. As much as possible, spread the word to others who care for your children about the dangers of sugar, and teach your kids too. That way, when they are away from you they will learn to refuse sugary options on their own! It’s worth a shot.
Another important thing you can do to improve your child’s health is to help them get an adequate amount of sleep. Every child is different, and adequate sleep for them can range between ten and fourteen hours. This is especially important for our younger kids in helping to support their fast growth. Truthfully, our teenagers can sometimes need just as much sleep, in case you have not noticed by now. An interesting fact is that kids who are sleep deprived will have more hunger. They tend to eat not because they are truly hungry, but because they are tired. Ensuring your child gets enough sleep helps them to learn the proper brain signaling for hunger.
O-Rock Tip #3: Eat the Rainbow – in Veggies
Make sure your child gets a balance of fresh fruits and veggies. They should actually eat more vegetables then fruit, and aim for a variety each day. Think of a rainbow, you know you have variety if you eat a lot of different colours. Each colour in these fruits and vegetables is derived from a phytonutrient. These key nutrients allow for optimal cellular function and communication, which strengthens your child’s immune system. The more vegetables and fruits they get in their diet, the less likely they will be to have issues with their weight, and another added bonus…less runny noses!
O-Rock Tip #4: Kids Need Core Supplements too!
Have your kids take the ‘core’ supplements. I encourage all of my young patients to take core supplements to ensure they are growing as healthily as possible. My recommendation of ‘core’ supplements includes a multivitamin, omega 3s, vitamin D, and probiotics. Multivitamins are helpful in curtailing any vitamin deficiencies. Our bodies need the building blocks to make all the cell processes function optimally. Our kid’s bodies are growing and doing a ton of daily functioning, so they need even more of those building blocks. Unfortunately, our foods today are not as nutrient dense, and if your child is a picky eater, you may be missing some vital nutrients.
The omega 3s help with inflammation, and support a healthy weight. In children, omega 3s also support brain health, so as their brains develop they have the extra support necessary for optimal growth. Probiotics are now getting a lot of press as big food industries are starting to advertise probiotics that have always been in products such as yogurt. This is because the industry knows that probiotics have shown benefits in numerous studies to not only help control weight, but also aid other health conditions. Probiotics support gut health, one of the core parts of your body that you really want to optimize. There are some bacteria in your gut that are more likely to be found in people who are obese, and there are some bacteria that are more likely to be found in people with a healthy weight. This demonstrates how a simple gut imbalance can actually influence your weight. Introducing probiotics into your diet regularly will help to put those healthy bacteria in your gut and create that balance. Lastly, vitamin D, is one of my all-time favorite vitamins because it helps our metabolism, bones, mood, and weight. There was one study that showed that when you simply restore your vitamin D deficiency, you can lose some weight without even doing other lifestyle changes. Good vitamin D levels can affect many areas of your child’s health – growing healthy bones, stabilizing moods, giving them energy, helping with memory and sleep, and boosting their immune system. So vitamin D is another great supplement that will aid in maintaining optimal health!
O-Rock Tip #5: Put the Screen Down…
I repeat… Put the Screen DOWN!
The awesome thing about kids is that they respond very well to activity. Adding more movement and exercise to their already high metabolism can help them maintain a healthy weight. At least one to two hours of play outside per day is the goal. If your child does not get that in their school day, try to make sure they have an extracurricular activity that is full of movement. Avoid too much television time or screen time. Kids have lots of access to screens these days, so you really want to keep this time to less than one hour per day whenever possible. We know that kids who have more than two hours of screen time, or less than one hour of physical activity, are more likely to have weight issues. Making sure you have the correct balance between screen time and physical activity is essential to raising a healthy kid.
Would you like more tips to help your children reach their full, bright, beautiful potential? Read more in our book, Healing Bermuda!
CLICK HERE to purchase.
Dr. Peets Talbot