Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Do’s and Don’ts of Raising a Healthy Child

The following is a guest post by Adrienne Razon.

Raising a healthy child can be a challenge, especially with so many temptations around your kids, such as junk food advertising, television and computers, and other factors that lead them to live a sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle. The key to steering your kids away from these influences is to build a strong foundation and to lead by example, so they can learn how to distinguish “healthy” from “unhealthy.”

Before pointing out effective methods to raising a healthy child, you need to be aware of what habits need to be avoided.
  1. Believing that “fat-free” or “low-fat” products are healthy – People need certain types of fat in their diet, such as those that can be obtained from animal sources, coconut oil, and raw nuts.
  2. Using sweets and junk food as a reward for good behavior – This will only encourage kids to think that unhealthy snacks are good for them.
  3. Forcing your kid to finish his meal – Kids will naturally stop eating when they’re full. To avoid wasting food, serve small portions.
  4. Letting your kids eat refined carbs and drink soda – Pizza, mac and cheese, fries, and burgers should not be a part of your kid’s meal. Soda and fruit juices are not ideal beverages for kids.
  5. Not eating a healthy meal yourself – If kids see that you yourself don’t eat any vegetables or other healthy foods, they will automatically follow suit and refuse to eating them.
Now that you have an idea of what you shouldn’t do, it’s time to focus on guidelines that will help you raise a healthy kid. Here are some of them.

Your Own Health Matters

What you eat or do during pregnancy will have a significant effect on your fetus’ growth and development. Maintain your optimal health (and your baby’s) by eating right and exercising regularly.  Consult your doctor on what foods to eat and supplements you can take, as well as what exercises you can do.

Remember that Breastfeeding is Crucial

The more and longer you breastfeed, the more successful your baby’s development will be. Breast milk provides DHA that contributes to your baby’s brain development. At the same time, it can deliver other important nutrients, such as vitamin K.

Take Advantage of the Sunshine

The best source of vitamin D is ample sunshine exposure. Take your child outside for at least 15 minutes a day to optimize his vitamin D levels.

Plan Your Child’s Diet

As much as possible, your child’s diet should be organic. Avoid snacks and beverages loaded with sugar and preservatives. If you train your kids to eat vegetables early, they will find no difficulty in resisting processed and junk foods. It is also ideal to prepare your own food. Let your kids help you. Lead by example.

Encourage Them to Be Active

Encourage your kids to make exercise a part of their daily activities. Prevent them from being sedentary, letting them watch TV or playing computer games for hours.

You don’t need to enroll them in exercise classes. Instead, encourage them to do fun activities,  such as sports, riding bikes, or simply play with them outdoors. The more you do these activities with them, the more your kids will be inspired to stay active. At the same time, doing physical activities together will strengthen your bond as a family.

Stick to a Schedule

Kids can understand time better if you create a schedule for them. Teach them to eat, sleep, and wake up on time. This also gives them a sense of security.

Make Informed Decisions

When it comes to vaccinations or drugs, find out all the details. This will enable you to create informed decisions for your kids.

Use Natural and Organic Products

The immune systems of infants and children are still in the process of developing. Any exposure to chemicals may put them at risk for serious complications in the future. Lessen their exposure by replacing detergents, cleaners, insect repellants, and personal care products to natural and organic varieties.

Take note of these guidelines and you’ll be well on your way to nurturing a healthy child.

About the Author

Adrienne Razon works as a writer at Mercola.com and produces natural health articles. She is currently doing research on important nutrients that children should receive in optimal amounts, such as vitamin K, vitamin D, antioxidants, and probiotics.