Nine Keys to Children's Heart Health
- Being a positive role model. With parents practicing healthy habits, it is easier to convince children to do the same.
- Incorporating a higher level of physical activity... through family outings sush as walks, swimming, biking, hikes and more. Physical activities that children really enjoy, like swimming, hopscotch, tag and jungle gyms should be included.
- Limiting television, video game and computer time... habits that encourage a sedentary lifestyle and providing time for ample snacking.
- Being supportive, focusing on the good and promoting a positive self image.
- Setting specific goals and limits such as timeframes for physical activity (one-half to one hour of playtime), sweets (maybe one cookie a day instead of a box) and then reinforce good behavior.
- Do not reward with food. Find other ways to celebrate good behavior in children such as a trip to the park, a new book or an article of clothing they have desired.
- Dinnertime should be family time. This will aid in decreasing the consumption of calorie-dense foods and/or reduce snacking. Plus, getting the kids involved in cooking and meal planning will not only provide time for building a stronger family unit, but also allows everyone to develop better eating habits.
- Make a game of reading food labels. This will not only enhance the knowledge of what you and your family are putting into your bodies, but also will allow you to make healthier choices. Label reading is a tool that can be utilized for a lifetime.
- Be an advocate for healthier children; insist on good food choices at school like water, fruits, vegetables and whole-grains versus French fries, burgers or chips. Plus consult with your children's healthcare provider and start monitoring cardiovascular indicators like BMI, blood pressure and cholesterol. Contact public officials on matters of the heart.