Fall is officially here, which means school, sports, homework, holidays and more! For both parents/caregivers and kids, this season can be an extremely busy time. Succeeding at keeping up with it all requires a good healthy foundation, and you’re in the best position to make this happen. Here are some things parents/caregivers can do to encourage healthy habits in their kids’ lives.
Prepare A Proper Diet
The U.S. is dealing with an obesity epidemic in children. Studies link this to a variety of issues, including lower amounts of physical activity and lifestyle changes. However, the biggest way you can make an impact is changing up what you’re buying at the grocery store. Cutting down on junk food and processed snacks while building balanced meals with lean meats, green vegetables and fruits is the perfect start. As an added bonus, changing the diet to include more of these healthy foods can have a positive effect on digestion. For example, getting more fiber in your diet helps you process foods better through your digestive tract—cutting down on digestive discomfort while helping the body absorb nutrients. There are also other ways to support healthy digestion for children, including dietary supplements. A great example of this is Enzymedica’s Kids Digest™. Kids Digest uses enhanced enzymes to help support the digestive system as it breaks down foods. This combination minimizes indigestion symptoms both at home and on the go.
Encourage Physical Activity
In the summer, it’s easy for children to find opportunities to be active. With less time and cooler weather, it may be challenging to fit in the recommended 60 minutes daily activity for kids. Whether it’s a family walk after dinner, a weekend game of soccer at the park, or signing your kids up for indoor physical activities like gymnastics, martial arts and dance—look for ways that both you and they have extra opportunity and incentive to move around.
Combat Cold-Weather Sickness
With the advent of fall comes cooler weather. Combined with the other kids your children will be coming into contact with, you’ve got a recipe for colds and other illnesses. Working to boost your child’s immune system can help them avoid lost days of school and house-wide illnesses. A healthy diet, regular handwashing and considering supplementing with Vitamin C can all be great ways to stay well. One of the main winners here is Vitamin C, as it’s an important component of immune cells. This can be found in many citrus fruits, so consider adding some fresh-squeezed fruits to your children’s morning breakfast. Strawberries and papayas are also good sources. Healthy proteins and vitamin E are other common nutrients good for immune support. Also consider using herbal ingredients, like ginger or garlic. You may think of these as flavor enhancers for your food more than anything else, but they can also help support the immune system with added flavonoids and antioxidants.
Catch Your Z’s
Running low on sleep can lead to a variety of problems, including being tired and irritable during the day. For kids, it can be especially difficult to make the change from summertime to school-year sleep schedules. Take care to ensure they’re getting enough sleep and consider a no-electronics wind-down time before bed. Keep in mind that different ages have different sleep needs—a group of 13 experts in sleep medicine came together to create a new set of ideal guidelines after reviewing over 800 published articles.2 Their recommendations are as follows:
• 3-5 years old: 10 to 13 hours per day
• 6-12 years old: 9 to 12 hours per day
• 13-18 years old: 8 to 10 hours per day
Mind Those Pearly Whites
This may be a bit of a surprise to close this article with, but according to CDC data, roughly 20% of 5-11 year olds have some sort of untreated cavity.3 As oral health serves as a barometer of sorts for general health, this incidence of cavities signals a problem. Teach good brushing habits and watch to ensure kids are brushing long enough. As a final note, a lot of getting your children started with healthy habits is leading by example. “Do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t really work when it comes to your health. Not to mention, taking some of this advice yourself can lead to a happier and healthier you.
Which one of these ideas will make the most difference in your household? Choose one and run with it to have your best season yet!
1Sahoo K, Sahoo B, Choudhury AK, Sofi NY, Kumar R, Bhadoria AS. Childhood obesity: causes and consequences. J Family Med Prim Care. 2015;4(2):187-92.
2Paruthi S, Brooks LJ, D’Ambrosio C, Hall WA, Kotagal S, Lloyd RM, Malow BA, Maski K, Nichols C, Quan SF, Rosen CL, Troester MM, Wise MS. Recommended amount of sleep for pediatric populations: a consensus statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. J Clin Sleep Med 2016;12(6):785–786.
3Dye BA, Xianfen L, Beltrán-Aguilar ED. Selected Oral Health Indicators in the United States 2005–2008. NCHS Data Brief, no. 96. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2012.