Medically Reviewed by Pediatric Specialist, Dr. Kyle Monk, MD
Covid-19 isn't the only epidemic gripping the nation. According to a new report by the World Obesity Federation, obesity will affect more than 250 million kids by 2030—and 43 million of those children will be under the age of five. But perhaps most disturbing of all, for the first time in US history, children are expected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.
Our children's health is one of the most important things to us as parents. And yet, thinking about our children's weight isn't always at the forefront of our minds. If any other condition caused high cholesterol, high blood pressure, joint pain, difficulty breathing, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, mental health issues, and even affected academic performance, we’d do something about it.
Fortunately, there are a lot of simple changes you can make to kick-start healthier habits in your home. Here are 8 healthy living tips you can implement into your everyday routine:
Healthy Living Tips
- Enjoy home-cooked meals and get them involved
If you include your kids in the weekly grocery shopping and let them participate in the decision-making and meal prep, they’ll feel more excited about what they eat. Allowing them to choose healthier foods to incorporate into their diet will leave them feeling involved and empowered. And of course, sitting down to eat as a family is a special bonding time where you can discuss the food and your day.
- Eat the right breakfast
It’s known as the most important meal of the day for a reason. A regular, well-balanced breakfast fuels the body and gives kids the energy they need to tackle the day. Sugarbreak Kids Reduce is the perfect complement to your child’s morning meal. Just two delicious apple cinnamon-flavored gummies will go a long way in supporting healthy blood sugar levels all day long.
- Send a packed lunch to school
If you're practicing healthy eating at home, but your child is eating processed foods every day at school, then they’re receiving mixed signals. Being in control of your kid’s school lunch means they’ll consume fewer servings of soda, fried potatoes, and high-sugar foods compared with adolescents who never bring lunch, as a 2009 study in Preventing Chronic Disease found. Plus you can pack a fun note with a joke to make them smile (or groan!).
- Ration snacking
Parenting during a pandemic is not easy. Especially when those hungry little eyes are looking at you asking for yet another snack. And if your child is learning exclusively remotely, then that also means more Zooms, less physical activity, and the increased urge to snack. One popular hack we’ve been seeing on social media is to ration the snacks. Pediatric Specialist & Sugarbreak Advisor, Dr. Kyle Monk, MD, suggests putting out an allotted amount of snacks in a basket every morning for the day ahead. Once they’re gone, they’re gone! Not only does it give your child a sense of responsibility, it also means they won’t be constantly asking you for snacks.
Another proven tactic is to introduce scheduled snack times throughout the day. Kids thrive on routine, and incorporating snack breaks as part of the daily schedule can be helpful when it comes to snack management. Dr. Monk says, “Being at home and out of a typical routine has really led to children and their parents filling the void spaces with snacking. Trying your best to stay on the typical routine of waking up, eating scheduled meals and snacks, and incorporating physical activity is helpful."
- Manage portion sizes
We all know that kids love carbs. And that you’re more likely to eat more food if the portion in front of you is bigger. But of course, one of the main problems with refined carbohydrates is that they don’t keep you full for long. Sugarbreak Kids Stabilize is an easy-to-chew gummy that will help prevent your child from overeating because it blocks excess carbs and sugars from being absorbed. This minimizes post-meal sugar spikes and crashes and keeps them feeling full after eating (which is a great way to support a healthy weight). So you can serve up appropriate portions of their favorite foods and feel confident you won’t hear any “I’m hungrys” later on.
- Limit TV time and encourage physical activity
It goes without saying that screen time needs to be limited (difficult during winter and a pandemic!), but when they’re off screen, you might need to get creative to keep them entertained. Outdoor games like hide-and-seek, tag, and jump rope are a fun way for the whole family to burn calories. Bike riding and hiking are also great family-based activities. Just remember to have fun while teaching them how to live a healthier lifestyle.
- Kick cravings to the curb
Most of us could use a little help managing our sweet tooth, and kids are no exception. Sugarbreak Kids Resist is the perfect way to help your little ones eat less sugar. One delicious berry mint strip helps block the sweet taste in food and curbs sugar cravings on the spot.
- Hydrate the healthier way with water
Sodas and juices are loaded with sugar, and many children go to grab them when they’re feeling thirsty. But as Dr. Monk notes, that thirsty feeling might be your child’s body playing a trick on them. "One might feel hungry when they are really thirsty or just bored. I encourage patients to try to understand their own hunger cues and not snack because it is there." Additionally, the sugars from these drinks accumulate throughout the day and eventually leave kids feeling sluggish. Encourage your little ones to hydrate with water instead and reduce their sugar intake while also putting the kibosh on the inevitable crankiness. If they resist, then make it fun by buying them a new canteen with their favorite character on, or if they “don’t like the taste,” infuse some flavor with cut up cucumber, lemon, or lime (or any other fruit they like).
We know it can be challenging to get your kids to live a healthier lifestyle, but remember, the healthy habits you build today can help pave the way for a healthier future. Implementing just some of the strategies listed above each day will go a long way in encouraging habits that last a lifetime. And we’re happy to be your wingman in this daily challenge! Or, as Dr. Monk puts it, “The Sugarbreak system can be used in addition to these great lifestyle habits to help children and their parents successfully achieve healthier outcomes.”
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