With the summer coming to an end, parents across Ireland are trying to claw back the routine for kids both big and small alike. It is not easy as the holidays have disrupted the normal school day flow that would have otherwise kept a little structure in diet and day to day activities. Getting to bed early, getting up early, getting uniforms ready, and the dreaded packing of lunch boxes: it sometimes feels as though the whole thing goes on autopilot and at some point starts to become monotonous, boring and down-right stressful. That is when it all starts to go wrong and we end up throwing any old thing into the lunch box. We need to find a way to slow down and make better choices.
The mistake we make as parents is trying to shoulder all the responsibility. Getting the whole family involved and having them take part in the process of a good healthy daily routine sets them up for life and gives them a sense of responsibility and encourages creativity.
Learn in the kitchen
Start by showing the kids around the kitchen. Introduce them to the different utensils and get them to help you. For the younger children do a name game and ask them to name the fruit or veg you are holding in your hand or while out shopping to go and find the most unusual piece of fruit or veg on sale. You don’t have to get it there and then but why not take it a step further? Go home and get on the internet or rummage through a cook book and see if you can find information on it, where it came from, its nutritional values, and if there is a recipe that you could try out together. For the older children and those in early to late teens, explore the benefits of a healthy diet and an active life on concentration levels and skin condition, I’m sure they will interested in anything that helps them get through the school day easier and combats those pesky spots!
Ireland is faced with a very serious epidemic at the moment and we are on the road to becoming Europe’s Fattest country by 2030 according to the World Health Organisation. We can’t control what happens in everyone else’s home but at least we can make a start in our own. It is never early to start educating our children on the importance of food and diet; this is a skill for life.
We can do so much in the way of prevention and so much in the way of education. We make sure or kids are happy, we build their futures, we are constantly trying to do the very best we can. It is now time to look at their diets and see how it affects them, their mood, their energy, their levels of concentration, their sleep, their immune system, their skin and body functions.
1. Activity day – Try where possible a walk to school day (if not possible for the whole journey, park the car a little further away and walk to school from there)
2. Encourage your children to come up with a new game that involves physical activity.
3. Get children involved in some kind of activity/club or sport
4. Recruit other parents and make it a fun day and social activity
5. When having friends over or organising a party, make healthy colourful treats (We are very much a visual creature and make many decisions based on how things look, so get creative)
6. Sleep – getting to bed as little as a half and hour earlier can reduce obesity levels, helps increase mood, and develop growth.
7. Put a cap on TV and Video game usage
8. Provide enough fibre
9. Don’t reward completion of tasks or good behaviour with sweets
10. Limit the amount of high calorie foods
Article by: Jason Kenny
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