It's the start of a new year, and better yet, a new decade! If there's ever been a time to implement some healthy habits, that time is now. Adults are more likely to lead a healthy lifestyle if they were introduced to the habits early on in life. So let's give that gift to the kids around us - whether they're your own children, your students, or the kids in your neighborhood, you can make a difference.
The Choose My Plate website, by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy & Promotion, offers a wealth of resources to "advance and promote dietary guidelines." Some of the resources include meal plans, tip sheets, recipes, budgets, learning materials, and so much more. Click the link above to browse this amazing, free resource!
Drink More Water
Everyone knows this one, but studies show that the average person does not get enough water in a day. Sending a reusable water bottle everywhere with your kids, or having bottled water available for children, are both great ways to ensure that water is readily available to them. Additionally, drinking water around kids, and limiting sugary drinks, are just a couple of ways to encourage water consumption. Stay tuned for a future blog post all about winning kids over with water!
Have a Plan for After School
Kids spend most of their school day sitting at a desk. While it might be easier to put the kiddos in front of a screen after school, there are much healthier options that won't cost an arm and a leg. Sign them up for an after school program! Most schools, community centers, and churches offer free after school programming that provide enrichment, tutoring, mentoring, exercise, socialization, and sometimes meals. Kids who attend after school programming are less likely to fail or get involved in criminal activity, and more likely to have positive health outcomes, academic aspirations, and better social skills, attendance, and classroom behavior.
Make Sure Kids Are Getting Enough Exercise
This can take form in many ways! Sign your kids up for sports or after school programming. Provide jump ropes, balls, sidewalk chalk, hula hoops, etc. for kids in your neighborhood. Incorporate movement into your daily classroom activities. There are ways to implement exercise into any part of a kid's day; it just requires a little creativity. Check out our blog "A Hop, Skip and a Jump to a Healthy Body" for more ideas to get kids moving!
One great way to eat a healthy, diverse diet is to eat seasonally. When you choose foods that are local and in season, you will naturally get all of the nutrients your body needs. Plus, going to the farmers market is an amazing way to get kiddos not only involved in healthy eating, but to get them excited about it! Shopping at the farmers market is also a great way to stick to your budgeting goals for the year. Luckily, we've got a blog on this one too! Check out "Season's Eatings" to dive into all the benefits!
Check In With Mental Health as Much as Physical Health
About 1 in 10 children struggle with mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and eating and conduct disorders. These struggles are often directly related to things going on in a child's life. As children's brains are still developing, they do not have the skills to cope with mental health issues on their own. It's important to be a good listener when talking with kids, rather than assume they are "bad" or "whiny." Seek help for children who seem to be isolated, angry, or disengaged by sending them to a school counselor. Try introducing mindfulness in your home or classroom. Read more about this in our blog post "Mindful Moments for Kids."
We hope this guide helps you implement healthy habits for your children in the new year! If you have any questions or comments, drop them in the comment section below. We would love to continue the discussion with you.