At the pinnacle of summer, when children are swimming, sleeping in and catching up on their favorite video game or television program, the idea of staying active and eating healthy isn’t exactly a top priority.
With August already upon us, school will soon begin for another year for many of Luke Air Force Base’s youngest Thunderbolts. The biggest concerns for the new school year are typically new clothes, shoes, backpacks and the over-all hustle of getting children back into the swing of things. But how do you get your child away from the technology to enjoy a healthy lifestyle?
It starts within the home. Planning nutritious meals throughout the year will keep children on the right eating track. Providing them yummy but healthy snacks can help detour them from reaching for those chips or cookies in the lunch line.
“Parents can introduce new fruits to their children throughout the summer,” said Aaron Anderson, 56th Aerospace Medicine Squadron nutrition program manager. “They can take their children to the commissary or to a farmer’s market and tell them something interesting about the produce. If parents keep buying the junk food, the children will keep eating the junk food.”
Not all chips and cookies are bad, and on occasion it’s all right to indulge, but one must limit how much is consumed which means monitoring what your children eat. Sunflower oils used in certain potato chip products provide heart healthy oils and the “good” mono and polyunsaturated fats and make children happy because they get to eat chips.
Eating healthy isn’t the only way to get your children on the healthy track. Getting children off the couch and into different activities can help to break the bad habits picked up during summer.
“Parents can engage in many different activities with their children,” Anderson said. “Activities such as kickball, wiffle ball, soccer, swimming or just playing at the park, the whole family can get out there and have fun.”
The responsibility doesn’t have to fall solely on the parents. Children can encourage parents to make some healthy changes as well. According to childrenhealth.org, 74 percent of parents would like to exercise more. Sixty-two percent would like to lose weight and eat healthier. Working together, families can start working on a healthy program, implement that plan and encourage one another to stick to it.
Some parents may feel there is chaos in trying to get a healthy meal plan for their family while balancing work and getting the children back into school. Anderson recommends focusing on buying healthy foods, planning outdoor activities, and most of all, having fun.