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Reena's sons

Let’s Invest in Our Children’s Health Because They’re the Future

Greetings Passion Fit Crew! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends and are hopefully continuing to enjoy the weekend with loved ones.

Today’s post is about our children…your children, my children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, neighbors’ children, friends’ children, children in our schools and even children we don’t know. The health of all of these children is extremely important, not only for their wellbeing, but for the wellbeing of our society and our future as well. Every generation has the ability to promote positive messages, philosophies, habits and rituals, when it comes to health, wellness and fitness, to the next generation. And while there isn’t only one right way to do this because everyone is different and each individual has unique needs, if we’re able to focus our efforts on the big picture, with an approach that is healthy overall and has room for customization and proper advice from pediatricians where needed, we’ll be in good shape…no pun intended. 🙂

In my family, when it comes to nutrition, we’re very focused on eating lots of fruits and vegetables, lean meats and proteins, lowfat dairy, nuts, whole grains and limited sweets (although we all admittedly love sweets and have to really make an effort on that last one :)). I like to show my kids what we have in the refrigerator and cupboards in our kitchen so they understand what types of foods we have and what are good choices of foods to eat at different times of the day. My younger son is three years old and is more of a snacker, which can be tough when it comes to getting him to eat full meals. However, this is very age-appropriate behavior according to our pediatrician and provides an opportunity to make sure the snack foods we have available are healthy ones, since a good portion of his nutrition right now is coming from snacks. My older son, who is seven years old, is a good eater and pretty much eats most things on his plate, which is nice. I’ve also been teaching my older son (and will eventually teach my younger son as well) to read food labels to understand how much sugar, sodium, trans fat, etc. are in certain foods and also to look for the good stuff like protein, good fats, vitamins, minerals, whole grains and other complex carbohydrates, etc. I don’t focus too much on calories because my children are very active and need fuel for energy and solid growth. We also watch our portion sizes and try to eat clean foods vs. processed foods as much as possible, so cutting or counting calories isn’t as applicable to my boys during these growing years.

All that said, I’m also a big believer in doing things in moderation (which is a philosophy I’ve learned from my mom) and try to let my kids be kids so they can enjoy ice cream, especially in the summer, cake at birthday parties, a little bit of candy during Halloween and Easter, burgers, fries, pizza, etc. at BBQs, sporting events and parties, cookies during the holidays, etc. We all deserve to live a little and enjoy life, right? As long as kids understand what it means to eat healthy on a regular basis with moderate indulgences, especially during special occasions throughout the year, then I believe they have the potential to keep up with these healthy habits into adulthood.

What types of foods and eating habits work for your children? I know some children have food allergies and other health considerations, so this is obviously where customization comes into play and is important for each individual child.

As far as exercise, my children are naturally very active (sometimes a little too active…ha ha), which makes it easier to ensure they’re getting enough exercise each day. They love running, jumping, dancing, riding their bikes and scooters and playing on play structures in our backyard and at the park. They also each play soccer in the fall (as shown in the picture at the top of this blog post), basketball in the winter, baseball in the spring and do swimming in the summer. My husband coaches many of their sports as well. They also play a wide variety of other sports during the summer including tennis, karate and horseback riding through summer camps. In addition, I’ve started a monthly yoga program at each of their schools and teach yoga to both of my boys and their classmates, which is a nice balance for all the active sports the kids do on a regular basis. I also recently taught a Bollywood/Hip Hop dance class for a local high school here in the Bay Area as part of Diabetes Awareness Month and it was really rewarding to see these teenagers having fun, dancing and getting some exercise in the middle of their school day.

These days, there’s a lot of information out there when it comes to nutrition and exercise for children and it’s good to pay attention to this information and decipher what works best for the children in your life. I also highly recommend reading this article by:

Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital

on some great guidelines, tips and ideas when it comes to nutrition and exercise for school-aged children.

At the end of the day, our children deserve to have the resources, tools and knowledge to lead healthy and active lives so they can grow, thrive in school, sports and other extra-curricular activities and go on to achieve their dreams and make a difference in this world when they’re adults. It starts with our generation to pay it forward as so many previous generations have done for us. And with each passing generation, we gain access to more research, data and findings when it comes to health, wellness and fitness, which provides us with more and more opportunities to be healthy ourselves and teach our children to be healthy. There’s also a tremendous opportunity for possible prevention when it comes to childhood obesity (which is skyrocketing these days), diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc. It all starts now and we can all do our part at home, at school, etc…so let’s invest in our children’s health because they’re the future!

That’s it for today. Have a wonderful holiday weekend and I’ll be back with another blog post soon!

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