Raising Healthy Kids

Recently I received a message from a doctor friend I met on Twitter. We follow each other, and share an interest in improving our own health, and that of others. Here’s what she wrote, “You have a lot of good tips for making eating healthy easier. You should share them on a blog,” Dr. Kristie Leong.

Another friend, one I’ve known offline for several years, sent me this message shortly thereafter, “I agree with Kristie. Your healthy eating tips go well with your theme of helping kids do well in school and earning scholarships,” Deborah Dian.

I respect both of these ladies, but didn’t want to start a second blog. As an alternative, I’ve added a page of simple ways to raise healthy kids to Road to Free College. Every few days, I’ll add to the easy tips below to encourage children to eat right and stay fit, so they’ll be able to follow the sixteen defining habits of scholarship winners and earn lots of free cash for college.

Easy Tips:

Some grown men are highly educated, yet can't feed themselves. Teach your children, both boys and girls, how to cook. Start with having them prepare a side dish with your help. Soon, they'll be capable of making an entire meal. It will give them a sense of pride, and skills for the future. 

Steel-cut oats taste better, as well as being healthier than other kinds of oatmeal. Buy precooked, frozen oatmeal in individual servings and defrost in the microwave, or cook a big batch yourself, and freeze individual servings. Both save time. 

Don't wear earbuds when taking a walk. Instead, listen to the sounds of nature or chat. It's a peaceful way to keep moving. 

Use a little extra virgin olive oil in the bottom of pans when cooking. It makes food easier to remove, adds flavor, and is healthier than using butter or margarine. 

Read labels and avoid added sugar in all forms. It's also best not to have candy or cookies in the house on a regular basis. Do, however, keep a jar of dark chocolate covered almonds the pantry for a tasty, healthy treat. 

Since all berries are wonderfully healthy, if you don't enjoy eating one variety, try something else. The richer the color, the healthier they are. 

In addition to recess and physical education classes, students would benefit from a school-wide ten minute pause for relaxation/meditation. Ask your child's principal if this is happening at his school. 

Do an online search for a specific vitamin or mineral to determine which foods contain a great deal of it. Then put anything you're not already buying on your grocery list. It's an easy way to add nutrition to your family's meals. 

Jumping rope or doing jumping Jacks, should be encouraged from the age when it's first possible to forever. It encourages our bodies to build bone every time we land on the ground. Why not do twenty every day?

Start your kids off with great dental hygiene. When they ask if they have to floss every tooth, tell them, "Only the ones you want to keep." 

Keeping nutritious seeds and nuts in airtight Mason jars stored in refrigerator door keeps them fresher longer and within easy reach of hungry kids looking for a snack. 

Buying fruit and vegetables when in season reduces the cost to less than that of junk food, even when they're organic. Buy them frozen when not in season, lots more nutritious than junk and lower in cost. 

Salmon is healthy and yummy on its own, expecially with a little lemon squeezed on top. It's also wonderful added to a salad or pasta. It's nice when flavor and nutrition work together. Since it's a mild flavor, kids will eat it without complaint. 

A study of eighth-grade students found a lack of exposure to morning daylight may delay bedtime that evening, cutting into their sleep. David Trilling (Blue Zones)

Add one more vegetable to your meal. Add one more fruit, handful of seeds or nuts to your snack. Repeat until there's no room for junk. Kids will learn how to dine and snack healthy and continue those habits into adulthood. 

“If you’re walking more than about forty-five minutes a day, you’re getting 90% of the physical activity value of training for a marathon,” says Dan Buettner, of the National Geographic. So spend less TV and computer time, and more time walking. 

Ask your local School Board, why your child’s school doesn’t do what they do in France. Click: French School Lunches YouTube

It takes a few minutes to find the important information on prepackaged foods, but it's worth the effort to know what you're feeding your family. If you can't pronounce the ingredients, they aren't real food. 

An easy way to eat more cooked tomatoes, is to prepare Italian food, with lots of marinara sauce. A simple way to eat more fresh tomatoes, is to eat several cherry tomatoes as a snack. 

To eat healthier, shop healthier. Stick to the outside aisles of the supermarket (that's where they display real food), and/or shop at your local Farmer's Market. 

Here's a healthy way to order when dining out. Pick 3 meals on the menu that look good to you, then order the healthiest option. You can also ask them to add or subtract ingredients to improve the "health" factor. Add a side order of carrot curls to your plate of tacos, as an example.

Fruit and vegetables you grow yourself are less expensive (and taste better), because they don't come from far away.

It's easy to make little changes to your shopping list, but they mean a lot. It takes a few extra minutes to find healthier options in ketchup, peanut butter, soups, etc. (lower in sugar and salt), but they taste better and make you feel better too.

You don't have to move to Spain or Italy to reap the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Just put the same foods on your shopping list and eat your way to good health. Like with any meal plan, don't over do it. 

Adding onions, garlic and broccoli while cooking meals is easy. Topping salads with raw onions (if you can digest them) and broccoli is simple too. All are healthy additions to any meal.

In addition to helping avoid diabetes, lifting weights three times a week is great for building and maintaining bone strength. They don't have to be heavy either. Just use weights you're comfortable with, and increase the number of repetitions as strength improves. This works for kids too, just make sure to use lighter weights.

You can save time and money, and resist temptation buy buying most of your weekly groceries online, and buying produce at your local Farmer's Market. 

If you prefer to shop at supermarkets, stick to the outside aisles of the store. That's where they keep the "real" food.

Try different types of leafy greens. If you have family members with kidney stones, check online for their oxalate level before buying a new type of vegetable. Dinosaur kale is my newest addition. It's dark green, has a mild flavor and is low in oxalate, but high in nutrition.

Turn on some music while you're making breakfast, lunch or dinner. Dancing while working in the kitchen will add more movement to your day. If you’re a terrible dancer, that’s even better. It shows your kids perfection isn’t required for participation. 

It's possible to learn from the mistakes of others. If someone in your family isn't living a healthy lifestyle, vow not to make the same mistakes. Learn how to take care of yourself, and live a healthier lifestyle. It will make all the difference for you, and your kids.

When preparing a meal, turn on 60's rock music, or some other music that makes you move. It's good exercise, and great for your mood too.

Once a year buy four ultra-soft, small head toothbrushes for every member of your family. Toss out their old toothbrushes, and replace them with new ones every 3-6-9-12 month. This will help protect tooth enamel while brushing teeth. 

Make a list of fun family activities. Write them on small pieces of paper, and put them in a big jar. When kids are bored, or you don't know what you feel like doing, reach into the jar, and pick one. Your kids will love doing this.

Here's a simple rule of thumb. Serve a salad to your family, with at least five chopped vegetables on top, five or more days a week.

Your family should eat four types of foods daily: whole grains, all sorts of greens, beans and nuts. This will add about six years to your healthy life expectancy, besides helping you and your kids feel great. 

When walking with kids or friends, throw in a challenge like, "I'll beat you to that tree" every so often to pump up the heart rate.

Having a dog is extremely beneficial to kids. Helps them build a strong immune system and develop responsibility. The only downside is the poo. However, if you have the money, there are services or teens in the neighborhood who will clean it up for a fee.

To help build bones, and keep them strong, jump rope or do jumping jacks with your kids for ten minutes daily. 

Making guacamole with kids is a fun and healthy activity. Just don't let them take out the seed with a knife, unless you want to take a trip to the E.R.. Instead, teach them how to remove it with a spoon. 

Whole foods are real food. Shop at the Farmer's Market near you. They only sell real food. Take your kids with you. They'll enjoy the atmosphere and talking to real farmers. 

Buy the small, ready to eat carrots in a bag. Your kids will eat more than when they're full sized. Or cut the full sized carrots into coins. Do what works for you and your kids, because carrots are super healthy.

Zumba takes a little practice, but it's an easy, inexpensive, fun way to get some exercise for those whose daily lives do not provide it. Learning how as a family creates the closeness kids crave. 

Several studies show children who have dinner as a family at least 5x/week have more self-esteem, do better in school and earn more college scholarships.

Avoid giving kids sugary drinks. It's  bad for their teeth and leads to them being overweight. Give them milk or water instead. If drinking water gets boring, squeeze some citrus into it.

Get together with your neighbors. Make a plan for each family to plant at least one variety of fruit tree. You could all share, and eat really fresh fruit without paying store prices. Do the same with veggies. Kids will benefit by seeing teamwork pay off.  

Everyone needs fiber. However, don't increase your family's fiber intake rapidly. Their gut will rebel. Instead, increase it slowly. Add a half cup of beans to dinner this week. Next week add something else, like steel cut oatmeal with berries for breakfast. Repeat. 

Adding more fresh, whole foods to your shopping list means your family will eat fewer process
ed foods. They'll soon get used to the taste of real food, and won't miss fake food for very long. 

I read about sourdough bread made from a starter in the 
@BlueZones Solutions book. I buy a loaf at the bakery, and have it sliced. Then I cut it down the middle to make smaller pieces. I freeze the bag, and take out what I want to toast. It's an easy way to keep it fresh, so there's no spoilage. 

Adding one more veg to dinner, and reducing the size of your meat portion is a simple change every family can make to improve health.  

We should all adopt a physical activity we enjoy. It could be a sport, hiking, dancing, swimming, or something else. Share it with your kids, so they'll grow up with this healthy habit. 

Look at lists of healthy plant slant foods and recipes, and make your shopping list from the foods they contain. @BlueZones post them often on Facebook and Twitter. 

Let kids pick one new veg at the supermarket or Farmer's Market to try each week. They're more likely to try a "special" food they selected. 

Write down everything you ate and drank and hour before you had digestive issues. Do this for your kids too. Playing detective helps identify food allergies and intolerances. 

Recently I learned exercise keeps our arteries flexible, which is a good thing. That’s reason enough to make sure your kids get up and move around the house or outside every thirty minutes or so. No more playing video games without breaks. 

Gardening is a great family tradition to establish. Teaching kids where food comes from makes them more likely to eat their vegetables.

Poor health is a good reason to stop buying foods that contribute to it. Filling up your shopping list with healthy fruit, vegetables, beans and whole grains leaves little room for junk.

Did you know pistachios contain resveratrol, just like red wine? So your kids can snack on pistachios while you enjoy a glass of your favorite cabernet. You'll both benefit from this healthy compound, which fights damage to our bodies on a cellular level.

To learn more about helping your kids become successful in school and earn more college scholarships, click HERE You’ll be taken to Amazon to review and/or buy my book, Free College. 

You are reading from the blog: http://www.roadtofreecollege.com

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Wallace

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