Healthy summer nutrition, activities

April 24, 2013 

According to the American Dietetic Association, during summer vacation time, it is important that parents take an active role to make sure our kids eat healthy and stay active.

“For many families, the summer break can lead to a disruption of the normal routine and a diversion from the eating habits established during the school year,” according to Katie Brown, registered dietitian and the ADA Foundation’s national education director. “It’s important to ensure everyone is eating the foods they need when they need them.”

To help parents and other caregivers provide healthy foods for children and the entire family, the ADA provides a website entitled “Kids Eat Right.” It is designed as a one-stop shop for weekly nutritional updates including articles, videos and recipes plus eating tips to promote the fundamentals of healthy eating.

The website offers some practical tips to help parents prepare healthy meals that kids will enjoy eating but also helping to prepare. This learning opportunity will encourage kids to learn and appreciate the many reasons for eating well. One of the best ways to help your kids eat right is to involve them in every step of the process which includes both the shopping and preparation leading to a great family dinner.

It is equally as important for children to participate in daily physical activity and outdoor fun of at least 60 minutes most days of the week.

Recent research indicates that children who do not get enough sleep on a regular basis are more likely to be overweight. When children got more sleep, they have a reduction in body mass index and a significant drop in their risk of being overweight.

You may be surprised to know that the research shows that children should have an average 11 hours of sleep per day. Those who consistently slept less have an increased risk of being overweight by the time they turn 7 years old. Among 3- to 5-year-olds, each extra hour of sleep per night has a 61 percent drop in the risk of being overweight or obese by the age of 7. It is apparent that sleep plays a critical role in children’s body composition and that prolonged lack of sleep, may cause children to eat more and exercise less.

Summer is just a few weeks away so now is an excellent time for all of us to make a plan for how we are going to keep our families on track when our schedules change. Start now. Make a plan and involve the entire family.

Judy Schmoeger, a longtime resident of Lee’s Summit, is owner and general manager of Anytime Fitness.

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