Chat with Ruthie Tips for Raising Healthy Active Kids
If you follow my blog, then you probably know that I spent a lot of my younger years overweight and that I struggled with weight issues well into my late 20’s. (My Weight Loss Story part A and part B) As I became a mother I knew I wanted to raise my kids with a healthy active lifestyle. I wanted to figure out how to help them so they wouldn’t go through the same struggles that I did with being overweight.
When I was a kid there weren’t a lot of athletic programs for kids, not like there are today. I made a point to take advantage of all the city and recreation leagues that were available, where ever we happened to be living. When my kids were little, I wanted to introduce them to a lot of different sports- in hopes that eventually they would decide which ones they liked best and wanted to pursue. Ultimately, I hoped it would be something to help them stay active and they could enjoy for the rest of their lives. It really didn’t matter to me what sport or activity they chose to pursue but getting them involved in athletics in a fun way helped to boost their self confidence, teach them about team work, and helped form healthy exercise habits early in their childhood. Recreation leagues are a relatively inexpensive way to expose kids to a lot of different sports and a great way to help them burn off all that extra energy!
All of my kids played soccer starting about age 4… yes, in the beginning they stood in the field and watched their team mates run up and down with the ball! If you asked my daughter Kate her favorite part of playing soccer, her answer back then was ‘the snacks at the end of the game’. But, each year they improved, learned more, and most importantly got exercise and gained confidence. I remember the last year that my kids wanted to play soccer- they’d all ended up pursuing other activities, and after 9 years of being a soccer mom- I was sadly retired. But only for a minute, because they have since pursued basketball, volleyball, football, baseball, and dance. I know it’s a lot of work to get kids to practices, games, and performances, but in the long run the benefits are innumerable!
Another piece of raising healthy active kids is setting a good example by being physically active yourself. Not only does exercise help with your own well being and stress reduction but, it sets a good example for your family of the importance of taking care of your body. Exercise plays a huge role in my life; there were periods where I wasn’t taking care of my body- the last 12 years with exercising and eating balanced has been SO much more fulfilling and enjoyable. I am a distance runner, a newbie road biker, and I can fumble way around a weight room. All of which help enrich my life so I have energy so I can lead an active and fulfilling life 🙂
I didn’t realize that by running consistently for the past 12 years, I was setting an example and planting a seed in my girls that recently I watched bloom. For the past couple of years my girls have expressed an interest in training and learning how to run a longer distance… AND just a couple of weeks ago I had the awesome opportunity to run a half marathon with both of them. Out of all the finish lines I’ve crossed, this one by far meant the most to me, as I crossed the finish line with my girls. I’m SO proud of them! They were just amazing and did such a awesome job…
When my kids were young, I really worked hard to help them learn to listen to their bodies and know when they were hungry and then to make wise food choices. If they wanted a sugar treat I’d ask them what the last healthy thing was that they’d eaten? I’d suggest that maybe eating a fruit, whole grain, or vegetable first would be a smart choice and then finish their snack off with a little treat. I wanted to help them to learn to listen to their bodies and to eat balanced and healthy.
Most of you are probably familiar with the Food Pyramid that has been around since at least when I was a kid… it recently changed to Choose My Plate.gov
My Plate is divided into sections of approximately 30 percent grains, 30 percent vegetables, 20 percent fruit, and 20 percent protein. A smaller circle represents dairy which is for low fat or fat free dairy or yogurt cup.
Basically My Plate suggests:
-Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
-Switch to 2% or skim milk
-Make half your grains whole grains
-Vary your lean proteins
-Reduce sodium and sugar
-Recommends portion control while still enjoying food
“We can’t watch over everything our kids eat but we do have time to look at our kids’ plates… And as long as they’re eating proper portions, as long as half their meal is fruits and vegetables alongside theri lean protein, whole grains, and low fat dairy, then we’re good. It’s as simple as that.” Michelle Obama
What is a “Healthy Diet”?
-Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat free or low fat milk and milk products.
-Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.
-Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt, and sugars.
Use My Plate Dietary Guidelines to:
-Make smart food choices from every food group.
-Find balance between food and physical activity.
-Get the most nutrition out calories consumed.
-Stay within daily calorie needs.
Check out the Choose My Plate.gov website for a lot of really great tips and information on recommended guidelines and nutrition.
I hope these tips are helpful in knowing how to help your kids lead healthy active lives and will help them lay a foundation of life long healthy eating and exercise habits!