7 Ways to Help Denver Kids Eat Right
Denver continues to be one of the most “fittest” cities in the US, but we still face challenges when it comes to the health of our children. Reports show the childhood obesity rate in Denver is 16%, and the percentage increases substantially as children get older.
Based on this, helping our kids eat right is essential to their long-term health. In celebration of August’s Kids Eat Right Month, we’re passing on these tips.
1. Start them off with a good breakfast.
Experts at Kids Eat Right advise that missing a morning meal can result in low energy levels throughout the day. Aim for a mix of carbs and protein such as a banana with peanut butter, low-fat yogurt with fruit, or scrambled eggs wrapped in a whole-wheat tortilla with berries and orange juice or milk.
2. Get kids involved.
Bring your kids to the store and enlist their help in selecting meals and snacks. This not only teaches children how to make good decisions, it gives them choices, which can appease picky eaters. But keep in mind that the adult is charge. Make sure you’re only buying nutritious foods that you feel good about. At home, involve them in cutting, mixing, prepping and cooking. They will be more inclined to eat what you make, and you’ll have more control over what they’re putting into their bodies.
3. Eat together.
This can be challenging with school and schedules, but it pays off. It’s been found that children who sit down for regular family dinners consume more fruits, vegetables, vitamins and micronutrients and fewer fried foods and soft drinks. Regular family dinners for teens have been found to reduce high-risk behaviors such as smoking, binge drinking, eating disorders and school problems.
4. Set a good example.
Kids are always watching and they take our lead. Kids Eat Right experts say to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, choose lower-sodium options, and make at least half the grains your family eats whole grains. For beverages, choose water over sugary drinks, and opt for fat-free or low-fat milk.
5. Rethink “rules.”
Disregard rules you may have grown up with yourself. Instead of encouraging kids to join the “Clean Plate Club,” teach them to stop eating when they feel full. When dining out, look past the kids’ menu and have kids consider choices beyond pizza, hot dogs, burgers and macaroni and cheese. Also, at meal time, don’t put too much emphasis on the dessert as the reward for getting through the meal. Get in the habit of not always having dessert, or not always offering something sweet.
6. Get moving.
In addition to eating right, it’s important for kids to exercise. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends one hour or more of physical activity every day. This should include aerobic activity, muscle strengthening and bone strengthening. You can encourage your child to get active by:
- Leading an active lifestyle yourself – again, kids are always watching.
- Exercise as a family by taking walks or playing active games together.
- Get your child equipment that encourage physical activity.
- Encourags your child to play outside with friends, go to the playground or ride bikes.
- Get your child involved in recreational activities like running, skating, biking or swimming. Also look into team sports like soccer, baseball and basketball. (Check out youth sports offered through the YMCA.)
Finally, Kids Eat Right experts advise that hydration helps maintain body temperature, transport nutrients and oxygen to cells, carry waste away from cells and lubricate joints. A baseline of six to eight glasses per day is recommended, with more during sports and activity. For every one hour of heavy-sweating exercise, electrolytes should be replenished with sports drinks, fat-free or low-fat dairy or fruit such as a banana or orange.
Denver is a fit city, but our kids still need support to fight obesity and create healthy habits for a lifetime. During Kids Eat Right Month and every day of the year, aim to eat right and stay active.
For more tips on nutrition and fitness, click here to learn more about our Nutrition Program.