Encourage your kids to live healthily

The Community Nutrition and Dietetic Service of HSE West is advising families with school-going children to take a family approach to healthy living in 2009. This New Year it’s time to make changes to our lifestyle, as how parents behave has a huge impact on their child’s development.

Are you the best role model you can be?

Spend a minute on the following quiz to see what areas you as a family can improve in 2009:

Choose A or B

1. How many times a week do you do physical activities with your children such as walking, swimming, playing sports such as football, tennis, etc?

A ) Two or more times.

B ) Once, if at all.

2. Provided there is a safe route to school, do you encourage your children to cycle or walk instead of giving them a lift?

A ) Whenever possible.

B ) Never.

3. Do you all eat breakfast every morning?

A ) Yes — we all eat a good breakfast every morning.

B ) Not always —some of us may skip breakfast some mornings.

4. What do you tell your child is the most important thing about physical activity?

A ) Having fun and keeping fit.

B ) Competing to win.

5. How many hours does your child watch television each day?

A ) Less than two hours a day.

B ) More than two hours per day.

6. Do you sit down at the table and eat together most days of the week?

A ) Whenever possible.

B ) Very occasionally.

7. How many times a week does your child get a high sugar high fat treat such as sweets, chocolate bar, etc?

A ) Once or twice, as a special treat.

B ) Every day or as many times as my child asks for them.

8. Do you encourage your child to help you prepare any meals such as their school lunch?

A ) Yes.

B ) No, I just pack what’s on hand or I give my child money for a lunch.

9. Do you all eat fruit every day?

A ) Yes we all do.

B ) Not always.

10 How often do you eat the wholegrain variety of bread/breakfast cereals/rice?

A ) Always or most of the time.

B ) Never.

How did your family score?

A = one point.

B = no points.

Add up your points to see how your family scored.

Seven to 10 points: You’re setting a great example.

Congratulations! You are doing a fabulous job of teaching your child how to live a healthy, active life. Because you’re doing it by example, you’re also benefiting your heart by living a healthy lifestyle yourself. Read on to see how you can further help boost your families healthy habits.

Four to seven points: You’re off to a great start.

You’re doing a lot of great things to help your child make healthy choices in life. Read on to see how you can become an even better role model.

Zero to four: You’re ready to become a better role model.

By taking this quiz, you’ve shown that you really care about being a good role model. Now, here are some tips that can help you become a better role model so your family can have the best chance at a heart-healthy future:

Be physically active with your children. Play games together such as hopscotch, skipping, or ball games. Plan family activities such as hiking, walking, cycling, swimming together, or anything else your child loves.

If your children can walk or cycle to school, encourage them to do so whenever the weather permits.

Studies show that a healthy breakfast improves brain power and helps maintain a healthy weight. Start 2009 on a healthy note by ensuring that all your family eat a healthy breakfast every morning.

Focus on making physical activity more about having fun rather than winning, especially with younger kids. Compliment them on their effort with a comment like, “You were trying really hard out there — you must feel proud of yourself!”

Limit the time your children watch television, play computer games, or surf the internet. Inactivity is linked to a higher risk of obesity.

Try to eat together whenever possible. Eating together at approximately the same time every day is comforting and enhances appetite and provides a perfect opportunity for your children to talk with you about their day.

Limit the number of treat foods such as sweets/cakes/chocolate bars eaten by your children. Instead choose healthier snacks such as raisins, fruit, rice cakes, low fat yogurts etc.

Get the children involved in what they eat. Children enjoy helping with grocery shopping, selecting what goes in their lunch box, and preparing dinner. It's also a chance for you to teach them about the nutritional values of different foods and making healthy food choices.

Set a good example for your children by eating fresh fruit every day.

Choose wholegrain varieties of breads and cereals such as porridge most of the time. If your children see you eating wholegrain bread they are more likely to choose it themselves.

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