Health and education are intrinsically linked. From an education point of view, children who are well nourished and healthy are more likely to be ready to learn. What parent doesn’t want to help their child to do well in school? Good nutrition can help a child concentrate and feel their best. Since the 70’s the percentage of obese preschoolers and kindergarten students jumped from 5% to 17%. Even the youngest Americans are turning up with precursors of heart disease.
A recent study concluded that 61% of overweight 5 to 10 years old children already possessed at least one major risk factor for heart disease and 26% possessed two or more factors.
What can you do as a parent to keep your little one’s heart healthy?
- One thing is to pack healthy snacks by planning ahead. Think about it at dinner the night before and get it ready while you’re cleaning up the dishes.
- Grapes, sliced apples mixed with cinnamon and a teaspoon or two of OJ will keep them from browning
- Whole grain cereal (read the ingredient list if isn’t whole grain pass it up) with raisins or dried cranberries
- Real low fat cheese and 100% whole grain crackers
- Orange segments are eesy snacks too
- Try to limit the amount of pre-packaged foods in your child’s diet or they’ll start to associate that all foods that taste good come out of a package.
Children establish food preferences and dietary habits during the first six years of life. Why not give them a taste for what foods really taste like in its natural state, like a sweet juicy pear? Often we grab what’s convenient.
Next time you find yourself thinking you can’t believe how much their little hearts love you, respond by feeding them foods that will take care of their little hearts. Remember kids’ model parents’ food choices, so stock, shop and offer healthy foods in your home. For more on healthy eating and snacks see: Healthy, Tasty & Creative Snacks for Kids.