(Family Features) Trendy, yet comfortable new shoes. Check. Stylish, yet appropriate clothing. Check. The latest super-hero branded, easy-on-the-shoulders backpack. Check. Pen, notebook, ruler, calculator, lunchbox and bottle of water. Check and check. With kids heading back to school, you do your best to provide them with tools to succeed while mixing in the right balance of fun.
Balancing what's fun with what's healthy has never been more important. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, obesity has more than doubled among children ages 2 to 5 and has more than tripled among youth ages 6 to 11 and adolescents ages 12 to 19 since 1980. By incorporating simple, healthful choices into your child's everyday routine, the entire family will benefit. Here are a few healthful, cool tools to get things rolling back to school.
It's all about simple, healthy choices ...
Healthy does not mean hum-drum. Pump up the cool factor and send your kids off to school with a power-packed lunch you both will feel great about. Here are five tips to a fun, nutritious lunch that students will vie for in the lunchroom.
- Gear Up! Let your kids select a lunchbox that best expresses their personality. Make time to pack lunch together the night before. Not only can you discuss healthy choices for the lunchbox and educate kids about portion-control, it's also an opportunity to catch up on the day's events.
- That's a Wrap. Shake up that boring, everyday peanut butter and jelly or turkey sandwich by varying the bread you use. Wrap your kids' favorite deli meat in a low-fat, whole-wheat tortilla or pita pocket. And, branch out on condiments. Instead of light mayonnaise, mustard or ketchup, add a healthy kick to any sandwich by using fresh salsa, pesto or vinaigrette.
- Snack Well. Avoid greasy potato chips and make fruit fun. Skewer fresh fruit on Popsicle sticks. For easy preparation, pick up presliced fruit in the produce section. Kids will delight in making and munching on these delicious kebobs.
- Blast of Fun. Move over sugary beverages - reshape the way your kids stay hydrated with Aquapod® Spring Water. This bubble-shaped bottle is 11 ounces of pure, refreshing spring water packed into a fun bottle that kids love. It's the perfect size and shape for lunch.
- Finishing Touch! Include a special note in your child's lunchbox. A simple "good luck on your test" or "thinking of you" goes a long way. Or, cut out a comic strip to give your child a few giggles before heading back to class.
Did you know that kids lose proportionally more fluids through sweat than adults? Hydration affects our bodies physically and mentally. Here are some sure-fire hydration tips from Jennifer Trachtenberg, M.D., F.A.A.P, a renowned pediatrician and author.
- Encourage your children to drink water at 6 months old.
- Hold off on juices until after age 1 to help encourage the taste for water as a thirst quencher.
- Try giving your children water with or after meals, as they will be thirstier after eating. Nowadays bottled water comes in many convenient shapes and sizes for easy portability for families on the go.
- Serve as a role model for your children by drinking water in front of them. Try to change your habits when it comes to drinking sugary or caffeinated beverages.
- Depending on their age, children need approximately 18 to 32 ounces of fluid daily, including:
- 2 to 3 cups low-fat milk
- 4 to 6 ounces 100 percent juice
For more tips on healthy ways to stay hydrated, visit www.aquapod.com.
Get Active, You Can!
As parents and caregivers, you are role models for your children. If you eat right and are physically active, there is a good chance your children will make these choices, too. Here are some tips provided by We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children's Activity and Nutrition!), a national education program of the National Institutes of Health designed to encourage families to eat healthy, get off the sofa and get active.
- Make physical activity a part of your family's daily routine. It's as easy as walking the dog with your children or parking the car further away from your destination when shopping.
- Establish a family day once a week. Play a friendly game of Frisbee or basketball in the park, or walk around the zoo or your favorite museum.
- Enroll your children in community sports teams or lessons.
- Play with your kids 30 minutes a day. Put on your favorite music and dance. Children should be physically active for at least 60 minutes each day.
- Have the kids help you rake, weed or plant in the garden.
- Replace sugar-sweetened drinks in your home with water; add a twist of lemon or lime.
For more tips on getting your family active and information about We Can! community programs visit http://wecan.nhlbi.nih.gov. For a free parents handbook call toll free at 1-866-35 WE CAN.