From what they eat to how they play---when it comes to keeping children healthy doctors say there are a few things families need to focus on. “Learning what is good for them to eat, what is not good for them to eat, and what activities they need to do is helpful,” said Dr. Denise Drago, a pediatrician with Lee Health.
Dr. Drago encourages healthy changes for the entire family, not just the child. “Kids can have treats and things like that, so it’s not that we’re saying you can’t do that, but how is it healthy to do that and how much is too much to keep a balance,” she advised.
Planning meals throughout the week can help you make healthier choices and make sure kids get the nutrition they need. “Really looking at just what you eat at the dinner table, so adding more fruits and vegetables, adding more fresh foods, and then mixing up how we cook foods,” said Dr. Drago.
Give children healthy options and let them decide what they want to eat. “It definitely helps kids if they are the ones who picked out the food or made the meal to kind of be more likely to eat those things,” she said.
In addition to eating healthy, it’s also important to limit screen time and encourage physical activity. Instead of treating children to unhealthy snacks and sweets, doctors recommend doing activities with your child, like going to the park or playing a game outside. “If kids are on their iPad, or if they’re on their computer or their telephone, they are not doing any physical activity. It leads to a lot of time spent sitting in a stationary position which isn’t very good for them,” Dr. Drago said.
Limiting processed foods, sugar, and screen time, can all help children develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle.