In a society where we’re constantly tempted with unhealthy habits in our everyday lives, getting our children to buy into healthy habits isn’t the easiest thing for parents to do. Like polite manners and personal hygiene, instilling a healthy diet is more effective the earlier it is introduced. In light of National Heart Health last month we have some fun ways to get your kids to jump on board with heart-healthy habits. The cardiology experts at AMS have a few small life changes that can make a big impact for heart healthy eating habits in kids.
What child doesn’t love salty chips, buttery popcorn, sugary cookies and ice cream? The list can go on and on. Snacks are often more exciting to kids than their three staple meals so it’s important to capitalize on these opportunities by incorporating nutrient-rich choices. Healthy snacks might sound boring but there are so many alternatives to the junk food items that we automatically reach for. If raw fruits and vegetables don’t excite your little one, stroll down the organic or natural food section in your grocery store for fun alternatives, such as organic fruit snacks or veggie chips.
Cut Back On Salt
A high sodium diet in kids can lead to several detrimental health issues later in life including high blood pressure. On average kids ages 2-19 intake almost double the amount of sodium the American Heart Association recommends. One of the best ways to start your kids on a low-sodium diet is by taking the time to read nutrition labels before purchasing an item. You will really be surprised by how much sodium manages to sneak into items where you would least expect it! Cooking from home more often, when you can, is another great way to manage your children’s sodium intake.
If you have picky eaters at home they might be more willing to try new things if you allow them to be involved in the process. When making dinner for the family have your kids be your little sous chefs by finding small jobs that they can manage to contribute to the meal. Not only is this teaching them to lend a hand around the home but it is also an opportunity to educate them on the benefits of eating new veggies, fruits, whole grains and healthy sources of protein. Plus you get to wrap up your day with a fun, bonding activity!
Exercise plays a huge role in maintaining a healthy weight but this can be difficult for children who don’t participate in organized sports. If your kids do not want to join a team at school or play recreationally, encourage them to play outside, ride their bikes, jump rope or play a game of tag with their friends.
As a parent it is important to remember that your children, especially at a young age, take notice of everything you do. If you display healthy habits throughout the course of your day they too will be more inclined to participate as well. Instilling these heart-healthy habits in your children at a young age not only helps them in the present but also sets them up to live a healthy lifestyle in the years to come. For more information about how to maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle or to schedule an appointment with one of our renowned physicians, contact AMS Cardiology today!