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Seven healthy habits to instill in children

As parents, let's make a commitment to living a healthy lifestyle and helping our kids to do the same. Here are seven habits to help your kids live healthier today and also impact their health far into the future. Are there one or more habits you'd like to encourage in your kids?

Spend an hour each day being active. Make being active fun. Find activities your kids and you enjoy and help them set time aside to do them. Kids copy the adults around them - so be a good role model!

Limit their screen time to less than two hours each day. While watching TV and playing computer games keep your kids occupied, it does little for their health. Turn off the tube and the computer and help them find things to exercise their minds as well as their bodies.

Fill half their plates with fruits and veggies. Experts now suggest that we eat a more plant based diet - the recommendation is that our plates be composed of 1/4 meat, 1/4 grains and 1/2 fruits and veggies. So make sure to offer your kids fruits and veggies at all of their meals and have plenty available when those snack attacks strike!

Snack smart. Too often snacks contribute little to a healthy diet. Make your child's snacks count by making sure quick, tasty, healthy snacks are available when the urge strikes! Keep fresh fruit in the fridge along with bite size pieces of vegetables with low fat dip or individual cups of yogurt. Keep small bags of pretzels, low fat crackers or snack mix within easy reach.

Bone up on calcium. Make sure to offer your kids three high calcium foods everyday. They are building bones during childhood and their bone health will depend on their diet today. So be sure to offer low fat milk, yogurt, cheese and calcium fortified juices or soy milk everyday to help them get the three servings they need.

Drink up. Encourage your kids to use water to quench their thirst reserving soft drinks and fruit drinks for special occasions. Allow your child to choose their own child-sized water bottle and encourage them to carry it with them.

Make it fast but healthy. Fast food is here to stay so help your kids make healthy choices when they head to a fast food restaurant. Encourage them not to super size, to choose veggie toppings on their pizza rather than the extra cheese or meat lovers versions or to share favorites such as French fries with a friend.

Teach and instill these seven habits in your kids and they will live a healthier lifestyle.

Web posted on Thursday, June 05, 2008

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