How can I get my kids to stop snacking all day and try new foods? How can we get our kids to get more active and enjoy exercise? How can I get my family to turn off the TV? These are questions we at the Dallas Mayor’s Youth Fitness Initiative often hear when talking to parents, coaches and program administrators. We all wish there was an easy button to press to encourage our kids to adopt healthy, balanced and active lifestyles, but it takes a lot of patience and planning.
Instead of stressing out and trying to tackle this long-term task at once, here are five key steps to help you get started:
- Take a detour from the snack aisle, and stop buying junk food. The middle aisles of grocery stores tend to have the most processed foods with ingredients we can’t pronounce. If candies, cookies and chips are out of sight and out of reach from your little ones, they’re out of their minds and mouths as well. To learn more about smart shopping, check out the American Heart Association’s tips for supermarket success.
- Replace screen time with family time. Reduce their TV watching and gaming by exploring events and activities such as Zumbathons, 5K walk/runs, skating rinks, laser tag, jungle gyms, etc. Mark your calendar for April 27, 2013 to join MyFi and Oncor at Get Kidz Fit Fest at Dallas Market Hall! You might even go one step further by challenging your family to unplug during Screen-Free Week April 29 – May 5
- Drink more water EVERY DAY. There’s no doubt that sugary drinks are a major contributor to childhood obesity. Consider replacing juice boxes and sodas with water, milk or fruit smoothies. I tried several of these tips for getting your kids to drink more water, and I have been pleasantly surprised by how quickly I was able to eliminate sugary drinks from my kitchen.
- Model your healthy habits. If your child is like mine, he or she has no trouble calling you out: “Why are you drinking that soda?” “Why are you still on your iPad?” You can make a huge impact on their attitudes toward nutrition and fitness. Set a good example by disconnecting from your gadgets and exercising regularly with your kids. Also, try these tips for making meal time family time.
- Make your plate great. Check out the USDA’s MyPlate Pinterest page for fun visuals to print out and hang on your refrigerator. The placemats and posters can help teach your kids about the five food groups, smart snacking, portion control and trying new, tasty recipes.
I would love to hear more ideas for reducing screen time, cutting down on sugary drinks and family fitness. Please share your thoughts with us below.