Now that school has started back up and there are afterschool activities, sports and homework, it can be easier and less stressful to provide fast food or packaged meals to your family. A good diet is essential for growth, brain and bone development, quality of sleep and stress levels. Obesity is a growing epidemic in the US and poor dietary habits coupled with little to no exercise are to blame. Below are some helpful tips to start a healthy diet:
· Half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables. Make sure you choose a variety of different colors and types of fruits and vegetables. Deep colored vegetables (leafy greens, avocados, etc) have lots of vitamins!
· Half of all grains consumed should be whole. Choose whole wheat bread, rolls or tortillas instead of white or flour.
· Vary your food choices. Try different or new foods. Go to a farmer’s market for new ideas or to find different vegetables.
· Limit salty and fatty foods. This includes but is not limited to potato chips, fried foods or pre-packaged meals which can have added sodium as a preservative.
· Cook more often at home. You can control what you eat and what goes in to your meals this way. You can also cut down on expenses.
· Always eat breakfast! Skipping meals can lower you metabolism and subject you to weight gain and other health problems.
· Only keep healthy foods in your pantry. You or your kids can’t eat junk food if you don’t have it available!
Exercise is also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is recommended that children are active for 60 minutes per day and adults are active for at least 2 ½ hours per week. It’s easier for the whole family to be involved in physical activity. Sports are a great way for kids to stay active. Talk with your kids and other family members and find an activity that everyone can participate in and enjoy such as walking the dog, jogging with a friend or pushing a smaller child in a baby stroller or a family bike ride. If you have pre-existing medical conditions, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
Many resources are available at : http://www.choosemyplate.gov/index.html