Health is not just about being physically fit – it’s also about being mentally sound, and retaining the ability to concentrate, focus, set and accomplish goals. The Interesting thing is that a lot of our children’s mental health can be affected by their physical status. “You are what you eat” or “Garbage In, Garbage Out”, are two sayings that come in to play. A good diet and fitness regime will help your kids be more mentally in tune, more able to concentrate and more inclined to thrive. But with TV commercials pitching high-sugar, high-carb and synthetic foods to be eaten while playing sedentary video games, parents might feel they face an uphill battle to keep kids healthy.
However, with ingenuity and a few child-centered tasks, teens and children can learn to choose wellness over convenience. They can choose nutrients over junk.
Here are 10 ways to keep kids healthy:
- Do not use fast food as a treat.
This links empty calories to special moments in life, which is a bad habit. Use a gourmet lunch at a special restaurant or visits to new, exciting places to reward achievement or good behavior.
- Have kids select a yearly fitness cause.
Many organizations sponsor walks and 5K runs to raise money for social causes like cancer research or diabetes awareness. Encourage your child to research what’s offered locally and choose a cause about which he or she is passionate. Participating will not only keep kids healthy, but also foster community responsibility and a sense of heroism.
- Indulge sugar cravings with smoothies.
Rather than have your kids eat candy and goods with high fructose corn syrup, let them make a sweet drink from natural fruits, vegetables and milk. Any child can work a blender.
- Let children garden.
You’d be surprised how many kids — even teens — love the idea of growing food from the earth. With a little healthy labor and seeds from the local Home Depot, children can learn to grow healthy foods like carrots, tomatoes, lettuce and beans. If they grow them, they are more likely to eat them. Gardening burns calories, too.
- Get them a dog.
Children can get fit by having to walk a dog or run with it several times a day. Encourage kids to research the best dog nutrition. This drives home the message that all living creatures need nutrient-rich foods.
- Meet snack attacks with brain foods.
Forget the chips, ice cream and donuts. Yes, children get the munchies while doing homework and watching T.V., but teach them to keep a bowl of healthy, tasty treats around. Raisins, sunflower seeds, cheese, organic peanut butter on apple slices, grapes, and canned fish like tuna, salmon and sardines are great choices. Plus, they keep the brain alert in contrast to sugary snacks which make the brain foggy and slow.
- Let them research and adopt a superfood.
There are several superfoods celebrated for their anti-oxidants and high phyto-nutrient content like chlorella, acai, spirulina, honey and wheat grass. These might not all sound appealing, but kids tend to love the idea of eating weird foods like algae.
- Ditch all Synthetic and Processed Food.
Have you read the ingredient labels for cereals lately? They are filled with chemical sugars and processed fillers. In fact, much of the foods pitched to kids are made in factories and have no relation to real food at all. They are devoid of vitamins and minerals. The best way to keep kids healthy is to keep such health violators out of the house.
- Choose whole vitamins.
Cute children’s vitamins can be efficient, but they also come with artificial flavorings, food colorings and empty fillers. Try whole vitamins made from whole foods.
- Buy Wii-style video games.
Teens and tykes love digital toys. However, you don’t want them sitting catatonic on the sofa for hours. It’s best to invest in games like Wii, which require children to swing wands and move their whole bodies to control the game. This is great for fitness.
Establishing these strategies as habits in childhood will ensure kids stay healthy for life.
Note: Opinions expressed in this guest post may not represent the views of Family Anatomy or its authors. Posts on Family Anatomy are for education only, and are not intended to replace professional or medical advice. If you need to talk to someone about family or mental health issues, you can get a referral from your family doctor.