#1 Do not give your children junk food.

At least not on a regular basis. Keep track of how many times a week you buy junk food, then try to scale it down (for example to once a week). And maybe one day you will get to once every two weeks. Every small victory matters. Junk food has little nutritional value and is detrimental to our children’s health.

Do you want to make a change? If yes, then first and foremost ask yourself why you give them junk food. Is it because it is cheap? Is it because it is easy to buy and put on the table? There are many foods that are cheap, easy to prepare, and nutritious, and they do not include junk food. With some planning (and of course action) providing these foods is simple and effortless.

#2 Take your children outside.

At least once a day. Or at least have them burn their energy inside, but really burning it. Dancing, jumping, chasing you, etc. I can’t emphasize enough the importance to kids of being active. Better sleep, better mood, and better focus in school. And these are only a few of the many benefits of kids being active every day.

The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology has provided guidelines for screen time and physical activity. The guidelines are at www.csep.ca and some important points from the guidelines are summarized below.

Guidelines for children 0-4 years old

  • Children under 2 years of age – no screen time
  • Children 2-4 years of age – maximum 1 hour of screen time a day
  • Children under 1 year of age – should be active several times a day
  • Children 1-4 years of age – should have at least 3 accumulated hours of physical activity a day

Guidelines for children 5-17 years old

  • Maximum 2 hours of screen time a day
  • At least 60 minutes of moderate-vigorous activity a day

#3 Do not buy sugary drinks – pop, fruit drinks, ice teas, sport drinks, flavoured water, energy drinks, etc.

Just stop buying them. If you do not have it in the house, the kids won’t drink it. They will ask for it, but they won’t drink it since it is not in the house. Very simple 🙂 . It is going to be hard at first. Your kids might beg, cry, whine, and make your life miserable, but you know what? They are worth it. Make the change now and they will thank you for it later (hopefully 🙂 ).

Sweet drinks can have sugar, artificial sweeteners, and/or caffeine. Too much sugar can lead to cavities, obesity, diabetes, and many other health problems. According to www.sugarydrinkfacts.org, the greatest source of added sugars in the American diet is sugary drinks, which are also the number one source of calories in teens’ diets. Always keep in mind that 4 grams of sugar equal 1 teaspoon of sugar. Put otherwise, 12 g of sugar written on the label of a product contains 3 teaspoons of sugar.

Here are two alternatives to store-bought sugary drinks:

– You really want to give your kids juice and that is the end of story. Then there is a way around it. Make your own juice – buy a cheap citrus juicer and juice some oranges or grapefruits or mix them. It takes only 5 minutes. Cut each citrus fruit in half, juice it, pour it in a glass, and serve it to your child with a fancy straw (yes, the fancy straw sometimes does the trick). Do you want to be fancier? Buy a higher quality juicer.  Better juicers typically cost between about $100 and about $400 (for the truly committed to juicing, a top-quality juicer such as the Norwalk can be about $2,400). These higher quality juicers provide the advantage of allowing you to juice other fruits and to add vegetables as well (celery, carrots, kale, or others that your kids will love).

– Drink plain water. Clean water is often overrated. But this is what our bodies need. We are around 60% water and we should offer our body what it needs. If you or your children do not enjoy drinking plain water, then add some orange slices, lemon slices, cucumber slices, or fresh mint. Or some ice cubes. Refreshing and healthy! You never know what will make your child drink water unless you try it. Want to be fancier? Freeze some strawberries (or any other fruit), whole or pureed, and use them as ice cubes.

My questions for you:

  • Can you make changes regarding #3 from the list?
  • Or can you follow through with at least one of the three changes I mentioned?
  • Do you want to help your kids not drink or eat something in particular, but you do not have the heart to pull the plug? Do you want to have active kids, but do not know how to achieve this?

Let me know in the comments below and let’s work together to find a solution for your family!