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Healthy Habits, Smart Kids

Published by drcemac, 2017-12-18 02:20:44

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Healthy EatingMany people assume that intelligence is either innate or is developed through education,or some combination of the two. If your parents were smart, and you had a goodeducation, then most people would agree you were a smart kid. However, we often forget,in the middle of all this, that the brain is an organ in our bodies. And, much like any otherorgan, our brain grows and develops depending on how we feed it.We have known for a long time that diet has a strong effect on our brain development.From the very start of life, in the womb, the mother's diet affects the baby's brain. In fact,her diet from before pregnancy affects her baby's brain! In the womb the baby is fed withnutrient-rich fat from the mother's hips. When a woman's diet is rich in vitamins, minerals,and omega 3 fatty acids, all these get added to that fat, making sure that the baby will geta healthy diet in the womb. And that same fat goes into a woman's breastmilk.However, if your diet before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and during breastfeeding wasnot as healthy or varied as you would like: fear not! Many health gurus would insist thatpregnancy and breastfeeding diets set the groundwork for a healthy brain, and this is true.But it is also true that a child's brain is continually developing and evolving. So even if yourchild did not get the head start you wanted them to, you can still help them with a healthy,nutrient-rich diet throughout their childhood.A great start for a healthy, brain-feeding diet is to make sure that your child's digestion isworking as it should. You cannot use the nutrients which you do not absorb, so it isessential to help them absorb all the nutrients they need. There are three keys to this.Key one is ensuring they are eating enough nutrients in the first place. If your child's diet isnot full of a variety of fruits and vegetables, you can start by choosing ones that taste mildand mixing and matching colors. Even if you are not an expert, the more colors on theirplate, the more nutrients they are getting. A great rule of thumb is five 80 gram servings offruit and veg a day, with 1-2 being sweet fruit and 3-4 being vegetables, and each onebeing a different color.Another essential thing for brain function are essential fatty acids. These fats are the goodsort of fat, and they help the brain grow, process information, and strengthen neuralconnections. They can be found largely in seafood and wild animal fats, but also in nutsand seeds. A very important one which is lacking in modern diets is omega 3. Oily fish orflax seeds will increase the omega 3 your child gets.Key two is adding prebiotics and probiotics to keep your child's gut healthy. A prebiotic is afood with starch and fiber which will feed your kids' healthy gut bacteria and help them toextract nutrition from their food. Things like bran, apples, and most vegetables are greatprebiotics. Probiotics are foods with natural bacteria in them. Many probiotics are not a hitwith kids because they are fermented foods and tend to be sour. However live yoghurt is agreat way of getting healthy bacteria into your kids' diets easily. You can even mixprobiotics with prebiotics for the best result.Key three is combining nutrients properly. Some nutrients need other, specific nutrients tobe absorbed and used properly. For example, iron and vitamin c help absorb each otherand are best had together. Because nutrient combining can be difficult, it helps toremember that protein foods are best had with fruits and fatty foods are best had withvegetables and starches. So, you would have cheese with crackers and celery sticks, but

pork with plum sauce.If you do all this, you will ensure your child is getting the necessary variety of nutrients togrow a healthy brain.Regular ExerciseWhen we think of ways of making kids smarter, we tend to think academics. More lessons.More tuition. More courses. More books. But this is false equivalence. Kids do not getsmarter because they absorb more information. Instead, kids who are smart are moreinterested in learning, and the amount of knowledge they have cannot increase unlessthey are inquisitive and intelligent. But this intelligence is not limited to “what you wereborn with” either. We know that mental exercises and diet, for example, can improve IQand test results in people of all ages.On the other hand, we rarely if ever associate physical fitness with intellect. In fact, as asociety we tend to do the opposite. We tend to split people into “jocks” and “nerds”, evenour own children, and assume that intellectuals cannot be athletic and vice versa. A hugepart of this is down to the American college football phenomenon, where talented athletesare often encouraged to train rather than study, regardless of their intellect. And this mythhas spread from the USA across the world, making parents everywhere think that moretime on the playground means worse intellect and a wasted education. But this does notreflect reality.Research has found that exercise actually improves cognitive function. For starters, simply

exercising before an exam can cause a marked improvement in the results. Students whocrammed for twenty minutes before actually performed worse than students who walkedfor twenty minutes before. This is because exercises will burn up excess stress hormones,allowing your kids to focus better and avoid the brain fog which could cost them grades.On the other hand, cramming does not help them remember much extra, and causesadditional stress which could leave them with poor focus.But there are other benefits to regular exercise. For starters, kids need to burn off energy.They are continually growing, and this growth doesn't only need food, but exercise topromote it. So much so, that kids instinctively want to move. Many places of learninginstead encourage kids to spend time sat down, and any children who are too hyperactiveare at risk of being mislabeled as either mentally ill or disruptive. In reality, if they had moretime to burn off that energy their focus would be far better in class, improving their learningpossibilities.Kids also need to learn and explore in person. Very few adults learn by just sitting downand reading. Most of us try and work out practical applications, create a mind map, writeout things multiple times... Kids are the same. They need to see how things work, not justbe told. How are they expected to be interested in the ways colors combine, in howdivision works, or in the life cycle of a butterfly when it's all just words on pages? Combinethis with their need to burn energy, and kids are what we call kinesthetic learners: theylearn by moving and doing. The things which they learn in the classroom are only half thelesson. The other half is digging up worms, putting gears together, and dropping things offa bridge into the water. Kid stuff will not just be fun for them, but will further theirunderstanding of classroom lessons.Finally, staying active will in the long run keep weight healthy, as well as improve bloodflow and oxygenation. It has been found that overweight and inactive people performworse on cognitive tests. The first reason for this is that when you suffer an insulinproblem, as many overweight and inactive people do, it is hard for your brain to get thesugar it needs. The same goes for kids: no matter how much sugar they eat, if theirmetabolism is damaged, then the sugars will not reach their brains. And when you are lessactive your heart does not pump as hard, and your breathing is not as efficient, whichmeans oxygen reaches your cells less efficiently, including those in your brain. The endresult for kids is that if they are inactive they have little energy for mental tasks. On theother hand, if they keep fit and active kids are more likely to thrive in academic settings.Unhealthy Habits and Kids' BrainsThe brain commands all our bodily functions. All the major organs of the body are important.However, without the brain acting as the central processing unit, other parts of the bodywon’t be able to do their necessary roles.Childhood is a crucial stage of life when brain development takes place. In order for kids toreach their maximum potential, parents should instill in them the value of healthy lifestyle.The brain reaps the most benefits when we consistently practice healthy habits.To do this, we need to drop unhealthy habits and start developing the right ones. What aresome of these unhealthy habits that can lead to reduced brain function in kids?

1. Overeating, especially junk food and fast-foodEven if it’s the right kind of food, overeating can be bad for any person’s health. Besidesthe fact that it’s very costly to be always snacking even when you’re not hungry, yourbody’s natural hunger and satisfaction alerts become disrupted, too. When not curbedearlier, kids may develop eating disorders that can lead to poor brain function specifically,the abilities to think and remember.Overeating becomes even worse when your child becomes addicted to junk food andfast-food. When you constantly eat unhealthy food, your brain doesn’t get the nutrientsit needs from real food such as fruits, and green leafy vegetables. This results intogradual mental decline.2. Skipping breakfastBreakfast is the most important meal of the day. Think of it as a foundation that will keepyou strong and on-the-go to accomplish your planned activities for the day. Children needto fuel their brain with energy for it to keep up with the demands of school in terms ofattention, learning, and memory.Skipping breakfast can bring about long-term effects on these important brain functions.Thus, parents need to ensure that their kids eat nutritious and hearty breakfasts eachday.3. Excessive screen timeModern parenting involves using TV, tablets, and smartphones as nannies for pre-schoolchildren. That is very much normal these days. But not because everyone is doing it, you

should be also using this parenting style, entertaining your two-year-olds with digital games, videos, and TV shows. Too much screen time hinders the development of a preschooler’s important brain functions such as the ability to concentrate, lend attention, communicate effectively, comprehend other people’s feelings, thoughts, and attitudes, and build a large vocabulary. Parents who allow their young children to have excessive screen time should rethink their parenting approach. Remember, it’s hard to reverse the damage done during formative years later in life. 4. Sleep deprivation Sleep deprivation is another bad effect of excessive screen time. We know that even adults are guilty of this. There’s a good reason why kids should never stay up late. They need to wake up early and prepare themselves for a full-day at school. Staying up late deprives them the ideal amount of sleep hours every night. As a result, they may oversleep, lose focus at class discussions, become sluggish, have less energy, and tend to be forgetful. Our brain also gets rid of toxins and repairs its cells during sleep. Not giving yourself the right amount of sleep and rest means that you are depriving your brain the self-repair and rejuvenation it needs every night. 5. Exposure to secondhand smoke Kids are less likely to fall into the habit of cigarette smoking at a young age. However, adults living with them who do this unhealthy habit should realize that smoking isn’t just dangerous for you. Secondhand smoke can cause major problems in your child’s health, including gradual damage to his brain functions and abilities. In fact, research shows that children who are exposed to tobacco smoke everyday have lower IQs compared to unexposed kids. Thus, they tend to have reduced brain function in terms of concentration, comprehension, and memory. Also, kids may acquire this self-destructive behavior later in life, thinking that if their parents do it, then why shouldn’t they. So, if you or someone in your household smokes, better quit now to avoid these bad consequences.Loving parents teach by word and example how to live a healthy lifestyle. Instilling itsimportance in your child’s mind at a young age will compel them to change poor habits intohealthy ones. Start today.Unhealthy Foods and Kids' BrainsThere are numerous dangers of feeding kids unhealthy meals, which is in contrast tonutritious and favorable food that nurture brain functionality and growth as well ascognitive abilities. Though unhealthy diets may be the easier option, they are apparentlyproblematic down the way. Indeed, the old cliché that stated that one becomes what theyeat could not be more accurate in a generation where unhealthy diets are more accessiblethan healthy options for many people.

More than one-third of children in developed economies are overweight and are at risk ofcontracting associated illness and diseases. Healthy foods foster kids’ brain growth anddevelopment, but unhealthy choices might damage concentration and pose serious threatsto psychological and physical health.Poor Brain DevelopmentFatty, processed foods may dampen your children if you are not careful. Feeding your kidslots of sugary, processed and fatty foods poses the danger of lowering their IQ, whilehealthy diets that are rich in nutrients and vitamins enhance its development. Importantly,this trues especially during their first three years, when the brains cells are developing at ahigh rate. Good, healthy and nutritious diets boost its development.As a parent, you are encouraged to feed your kids with nutritious foods. In addition tomental development and growth, this is important for physical development and growth.There are other basic foods types, and they include: • Processed foods-They are cramped with sugar, fats and convenience diets. • Traditional foods-These are high in vegetables and meats • Health Conscious-They contain lots of fish, rice, salads, pasta, and fruitsKids who take diet full of processed diets before the age of three are more likely to have alow IQ at the age of eight as compared to health-conscious foods consumers. It is alsoworth noting that for every point of increased processed foods, a kid will lose about 1.5points in IQ. On the contrary, there is about 1.2 points increment in IQ for every pointincrease in healthy eating.

Evidently, diet at the age of up to 3 years is fundamental as a diet at the age of at leastfour years do not affect IQ growth and development.Moreover, when kids' food consists of foods with high calories and low fundamentalnutrients such as vitamin and minerals, their bodies do not get nutrients necessary todevelop and enhance brain function. This eating behavior can lead to a series of toxiceffects, including poor behavior and social skills and decreased cognitive ability.For busy parents and guardians, junk and fast foods seem to be an affordable and cheapoption. However, defaulting to high fat and calorie diet is posing a danger to kids’ health atrisk. Conversely, cooking healthy and easy foods for the family will give your children aboost in significant nutrient, which are needed for robust brain development.Energy and FocusDiet has a direct effect on kids’ study habits. Junk and fast food with high sugar levelsexhaust energy levels and kids’ ability to concentrate for extended time periods is greatlyimpaired. Focus and energy are essential for school going children. Kids set their lifelonghabit foundation in their childhood, and junk and processed food pose a great danger totheir overall development. In addition to low focus, physical activity us equally essential forkids of all ages, and taking fast and processed foods often deprives them the energyrequired to engage in their daily physical activities. Consequently, lack of physical activitiesleads to a harmful mental and physical wellbeing, which may exclude you kids fromimperative social growth and development.Junk and processed can be appealing for some reasons, comprising of taste, price, andconvenience. However, for kids who hardly understand the hazardous effects of theireating habits, junk, and fast food may seem appetizing. But regular consumption ofdampening junk food can become addictive to them and lead to complications suchchronic illness, poor cognitive ability, low self-esteem, obesity and even depression.Solo Exercises for KidsExercising is amazing for developing healthy brain functioning, both short and long term. Inthe short term exercise is a great way of rebalancing our entire body. When we exercisewe burn up stress hormones. As stress hormones rise we often go into fight or flight mode,which is designed to override our higher mental processes and let us focus on ourinstincts. Which is a great idea if we are running from a bear, but a terrible idea if we arepreparing for an exam. Getting rid of stress hormones lets us focus.In the long term exercise creates a body which is better able to support our brains. Beingslim, fit, and active are associated with higher IQ and exam scores. In part this is becauseyou are creating a metabolism which allows you to focus. As described above, stresshormones can get in the way of more advanced thought processes. But stress is not just atemporary state, it can also be a habit. When our bodies are in a state of physical stressdue to poor nutrition, low energy, and overweight, then mental stress is sure to follow.When we keep our metabolism strong through exercise, then our mind can also be strong.Exercise will in the long term also improve the body's ability to get nutrients and oxygen toour brain, and to take waste products away from it. Exercise does this by improving howwell our hearts and lungs work. We absorb more oxygen and move more oxygen andnutrients to our brains faster. And waste products are removed from our brains faster too.

The end result is an overall healthier brain. In short: exercise is great for our brainfunctions all round.But not everyone has access to exercise options all the time. Especially not kids, who nowoften inhabit a solitary digital world. If your kid spends most of their day on a phone,computer, or video game, chances are they are not getting enough regular activity for theirmental health and proper brain development. But if they do not have many options to join asports team or gym class, then what can you do to encourage them to get active aroundthe house?A sports set is a great way of keeping your child or children entertained on their own.Sports sets are small versions of proper sports equipment which allow an individual childor a couple of children to enjoy certain aspects of the game without having to play itoutdoors or with a team. Many sports sets are also safe to use indoors, such as door-mounted basketball hoops or indoors golf kits, where the sets are soft, light, and small.Moving toys and videogames which are interactive can keep your child moving even if theyare not big on sport and are completely on their own. These are great options if your childis not very sociable, as it allows them to stay active despite a lack of other kids to playwith. It could also work as a good middle step between spending all day on a videogameand spending some time exercising.Toys and sets which support important academic and life lessons should not beunderestimated. Things like building kits, bug finding sets, and other toys which get yourchild moving and learning will combine their physical and academic needs, improving howmuch and how quickly they learn.Finally, it is important to remember that fidgeting and moving when working are not bad

things. Although schools have done a lot in the past to demonize kids that fidget, thereality is that all children have different energy levels and that some children learn betterwhen they can move. Small fidget toys could help your child to focus in class even if allthey really want to do is run around and burn some energy.Family ExercisesExercise is vital for keeping your brain working as it should, both now and for theforeseeable future. In the short term exercise keeps our body balanced. Exercise burns upstress hormones and excess sugars. This prevents us from getting into or staying in fightor flight mode. Fight or flight mode starts whenever we are stressed and is designed totake us away from danger, but if we do not exercise enough we can stay like this all thetime, which stops us from using our higher thought processes. On the flip side, if wecontrol our stress and use our higher processes, our brains are healthier.When we are looking at the long term effects of exercise we need to understand thatmetabolism and our cardiopulmonary systems are essential for keeping our brains workingas they should. When we are overweight, inactive, and/or unfit, we are at risk of loweringour IQ scores and failing tests. This is for three reasons.Firstly, our metabolism is slowed right down, leaving us in a physically stressed state. Andphysical stress often leads to mental stress, putting us into fight or flight mode.Secondly, if we do not exercise well we are almost certainly not breathing properly.Healthy, slow, regular, deep breaths are vital to make sure that we are getting as muchoxygen as possible. Exercise teaches our body to have the right posture and rhythm forhealthy breathing, whereas inactivity promotes shallow breathing and low oxygen levels.

And finally, we rely on our blood to carry this oxygen and other vital nutrients to all ourcells, including the ones in our brains. When our heart is weak from lack of exercise thenthese nutrients do not reach our brain fast enough. What is more, toxic waste productsbuild up in our bodies all the time and our blood is in charge of removing them. When ourheart is not pumping properly, then these waste products will be removed too slowly,putting us at risk.All of this can affect our ability to use our brains to their greatest potential, no matter whatour age or our goals. But not all of us have the time, energy, or motivation for conventionalexercise. Especially not kids. Fortunately, if you work out as a family you can turn exerciseinto a habit which your kids will grow to love for its own sake.Walking is the simplest way of enjoying exercise as a family. Anyone can enjoy theexperience of exercising outside. Even a wheelchair user, with the right chair and support,can benefit from a walk due to the sunlight and upper body exercise. If you have a dog orlive close to any shops you frequently use, you have the perfect opportunity to add walksinto your daily life.For families with older kids, you can progress beyond walking into something like joggingor cycling. These exercises can be a little strenuous for children under the age of seven,but for older kids a cycle down a country lane or in the park makes great exercise. Forfamilies with children under the age of seven, incorporating a bike-attached stroller canallow everyone else the opportunity to exercise.General activity such as playing sports, martial arts, or swimming could be fun if you havethe means to do them. If there is a sports center near to your home, or if either parentknows how to play a certain sport or safely perform a specific exercise activity, then it maybe something nice for the family to do together.The Importance of Proper Hydration for KidsHydration is essential, particularly for kids, as their water requirements are higher incorrelation to their body sizes than adults.Children hardly recognize thirst in their early stages, thus making them more exposed tobeing dehydrated, particularly times that can drive up loses in their body fluids. Suchmoments include during warm weather or when playing their favorite sport.Even when dehydration is mild, it can lead to poor concentration, tiredness, low mentalfunctionality, headaches and dry skin. This chapter looks into what children should drinkand the quantities they can have. It also addresses tips on how to keep children hydratedhealthily and other facts about water and body hydration.What should children drink?Although there are plenty of guidelines on fluid intake in kids, water emerges to the onlyfluid that is recommended to be taken in plenty because it hydrates with zero calories andno risk of teeth damage.Effects of dehydration to kidsNearly 75 percent of a kid’s brain comprises of water, and about 60 percent of their

bodyweight is water. You can now imagine the level of damage if the body is deficient influids. Just like adults, children require water for excretion, digestion, circulation, and bodymetabolic reactions. Insufficient water amount in the body greatly impairs its functionality.Though severe dehydration can lead to an emergency healthcare, mild dehydration has asignificant impact on kids’ mental and cognitive abilities. It can lead to dizziness, lack ofconcentration, headache, fatigue, and even mental confusion.Research indicates that dehydration of about 2 percent prejudices performance in any taskthat needs immediate memory skills, attention and psycho-motor together with subjectivestate assessments. Children that take extra water performs better in visual and attentiontasks and reports less thirst. This indicates that mental performs of kids can be enhancedwhen they take plenty of fluids, particularly water.How much water is enough for kids?The water quantity a kid need vary greatly and are dependent on such factors as gender,weather, age and physical activity level if the kid. Children aged between 4 and 13 shouldaim to take at least 6 cups of water daily, which is in addition to water consumed in foods.Smaller kids, on the other hand, requires relatively small amounts of about 150 milliliters.How to keep children hydrated wellEnsure that your kids have a water bottle when they go out. Give them the responsibility ifrefilling their water bottles as well as carry them wherever they go. You should inculcatethis habit early enough, and you will be thrilled as it will become a healthy life habit.Educate your kids on the importance of water uptake regularly. Inform them on how wateris imperative for body cells functionality as well the consequences of inadequate water.

Once they get the importance, they will pay more attention to thirst.Take the responsibility of reminding them to take water their water all through the day. Ifneed be, pack two bottles of water for school; one with the lunch box and the other for thedesk. They can have some sips during breaks and in between classes.Motivate them to drink more water after playing their favorite sport and activities such asexercise and dance. Explain to them that it is essential to compensate the water lostthrough sweat.As a parent or guardian, you can add extra hydration through packing hydrated snackssuch as salads, diluted juice, and fresh fruits. Great alternatives are cucumbers, lettuce,melons, citrus fruits, and berries.When there is an athletic event or completion during summer, pack them an electrolytedrink or a sports drink.Avoid any diuretics since they increase they increase the loss of fluids from the body. Suchdiuretics include iced teas, sugary and aerated drinks as well as colas.Alternatively, you can give your children flavored beverages that have sodium since theyare more likely to drink more.There you have them! By helping your young athletes stay hydrated, your kids will behealthier, happier both on car rides back home and out on the playgrounds. Importantly,do not forget to consult your therapist and physicians should you need further help.The Best Foods for Kids' BrainsWhen we want to look after our brains, it is important to put the right stuff in. This can bedifficult at times, because of the sheer variety of foods available to us, and the oftenconfusing messages that food companies give us when it comes to health food. However,research has found that some nutrients, and therefore the foods that contain them, arespecifically great for our brains. Eating these, in the right circumstances, will improvemental functioning massively and help you work to the best of your ability.Omega 3 oils are the reason why fish is considered brain food. Omega 3 oils are anessential fatty acid which is generally lacking in modern diets. This essential fatty acidhelps build our brains, fights oxidation, and carries vital nutrients such as fat solublevitamins. It is also amazing for hormonal regulation. Beyond omega 3, fish contains a highamount of vitamin A, an antioxidant, several minerals, and of D2. Vitamin D2 is a precursorto vitamin D3, which is a vital cornerstone of mental health and which helps fightdepression, insomnia, and lethargy.If you are not a fan of fish, or follow a vegetarian diet, you have other options for omega 3oils. Flax seeds are particularly high in omega 3. They also contain a lot of the sameminerals as fish. However, they are lacking in vitamin D2. If you want the benefits ofvitamin D without eating animal products, you need to choose chlorella seaweed, or a highquality supplement.Nuts are also wonderful for our brains. Nuts are high in vital minerals and healthy fatswhich help us to balance our hormones. This balance reduces stress on the mind and

body, encouraging focus, good mental health, and clear thinking.Berries have been found to contain antioxidants which promote better brain functioning.These antioxidants help break down plaques in the brain as they form, delaying the onsetof problems such as dementia and reversing the typical loss of mental functioning whichoften begins in old age. So even though they will not fight pre-existing brain conditions,they are great for protecting you against future damage.Getting enough vitamin C, vitamin K, and iron keeps our brains well supplied with oxygen.Iron is vital for carrying oxygen, vitamin C helps us absorb iron, and vitamin K promoteshealthy clotting. All of this together can boost the amount of oxygen our brains get. Oxygenis an essential component of the process where we turn glucose and ketones into ATP tofuel our bodies. Without enough oxygen, we may not have enough energy in our brains,leaving us feeling sluggish and distracted. To get enough of these nutrients, eat iron-richfoods alongside fruits and green leafy vegetables. A salad with protein, dark lettuceleaves, and tomatoes is a great choice.B vitamin complexes are also essential for getting the right amount of glucose to our braincells. B vitamins all play a different role in turning glucose and ketones into ATP. Despiteoften eating high protein diets, many Western diets are low in B vitamins due to choosing alow variety of protein foods and overcooking them. If you do not eat much unprocessedred meat, add legumes such as chickpeas and kidney beans to your diet to boost Bvitamins.When we are studying, sugary foods are not actually the enemy. Although regularly

snacking on sugar causes brain fog and a sugar crash causes lethargy and lack of focus,a little bit of sugar as you actively study can replenish the energy the brain is using. It canalso be used as a reward, to help keep you focused on your end goal. Some people putsugary rewards between the pages of their book, to encourage them to work harder.Caffeine, although a very popular student pick me up, is actually hit and miss. All caffeinedoes for most people is cause the body to dump glucose whilst stimulating the release ofstress hormones. This gives you a temporary high with a worse crash than sugar.However, for people with hormonal imbalances, ADD, or bipolar, caffeine can actually cutthrough poor focus and help them work. So, it is not all evil, rather, it is medicinal.Eating the right foods is a very important part of keeping a healthy, focused brain. But it isimportant to remember that this is not the only thing you need to be doing. You also haveto make sure that you stay active and hydrated, get enough rest, and avoid some foodswhich harm your mental functions. Looking after your brain is a whole body effort, and justeating some of the right foods will not make up for other bad habits.Encouraging HealthMany parents feel that they are fighting a losing battle when it comes to children andhealth. After all, kids actively resist anything which we think of as healthy. Green food?Nope. Exercising outdoors? Absolutely not. A shower? Horrible! Brushing their teeth? Areyou mad?!But this doesn't have to be the case. You might think that kids are either well behaved orrebellious, and that whether your kid is healthy or not just depends on how lucky you are.But the reality is kids, however different their tastes may be, are still ultimately just smallpeople, and when shown the respect they need, instructed, and rewarded, they will dowhat needs to be done, much the same way we go to work even though we don't want to!First of all, it's important to understand that the things we think of as healthy are justnatural. That is why they are healthy! Getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating wholefoods are all healthy because they are what we evolved to do. Which means that on somebasic level your kids' bodies want them to do this too! Nature is on your side!Secondly, your kids can form habits that will guide them for life if these things arepresented the right way. This is why something as seemingly boring as some app gamescan be so addictive: they look right, sound right, and deliver the right rewards to keep yourkids hooked on basically sorting things.But they key here is in “presented the right way”! Kids do not resist Brussels sprouts andjogging because they are little trolls who want nothing more than to make your life hell.They do it because we are forceful and neglect their needs and feelings. For example, achild's taste buds are not developed enough for certain strong tastes like Brussels sprouts,and your child may have had something better to do than jogging. You need to rememberthat they are individuals and they may have separate lives, however unimportant theselives seem to us.Kids can grow to love healthy foods, though. At every stage in a child's life you can addhealthy foods by using the same tricks: present the food so they can get used to it, letthem be involved in preparing it, and sort it based on their reaction. If it's a favorite, thenwe're fine. But often when it is disliked we get pushy. Ask your kid to rank the food from 0-

10 and depending on where they place it you can try it again in new recipes (7-9), try itagain in a few months (4-7), let them decide when to try it again (1-4) or just let it be (0).And remember: nutrition comes from everywhere. Your kid doesn't have to eat sprouts, asthose nutrients can be found in many foods.Exercise comes naturally to kids. Why do you think schools have such a hard time gettingthem to sit down and read? Children should not be forced to exercise any more than theyshould be forced to eat a food they hate. Instead, we need to find out what exerciseappeals to our kids, what exercise does not, and why. You may find that a sport you havebeen pushing is not interesting to them, or that running makes them feel self-conscious.You need to work out what your child will do for exercise, what they enjoy, and use it.By addressing their concerns and treating your children as individual human beings whohave reasons for what they are doing, you stand a better chance of persuading them to behealthier.Setting a Good ExampleWe all want our kids to do well in life, and a big part of that is making sure they grow up tobe fit and healthy. But in a modern environment full of junk food, smartphones, andstreaming television, where many kids lack access to safe places to exercise and whererecess is being cut, raising a healthy child can feel like a challenge. You tell them to eattheir greens and they won't. You tell them to go play outside and they don't. What's aparent to do?But sometimes a shift in perspective helps: Would you do as someone said, not as theydid? Take, for example, when a religious authority is discovered to be sinning, or when apolitician does the opposite of what they advocate. We hate it when a person with

authority, when The Man, bosses us about and yet does the opposite themselves. Itmakes us resentful, rebellious, and angry. Now think about people you genuinely look upto. Chances are they are consistent and live by what they preach. And that's the key.To your kids you are The Man. You are the authority. And they look up to you. If you donot lead by example, not only will they not do what you ask them, but they will lose respectfor you, the same way you lose respect for hypocrites in power. You need to live by whatyou preach and preach what you live if you want them to take your advice seriously.Removing or restricting negative influences is the single best thing you can do to directyourself and your child towards choosing health. If there is no junk food in the house,nobody can binge on junk food. If there is a time of day when someone has a favoriteshow, do not have meals or exercise at that time, as it is doomed to fail. Work together tomake sure that there are no distractions from your exercise and healthy food routines.Be honest about your own mistakes and limitations, too. What if you have a bad day andeat half a chocolate cake? Do you lie to them? Tell them not to do what you just did? Orare you honest? It is better to tell them that you had a bad day, that you feel rubbish, andthat it made you want to comfort eat. It is better to explain to them how this works, andhow you will make up for it, not just the physical calories, but also the bad thoughts thatcame before and after the binge. If your kids know you aren't infallible they will trust youand respect you more for your good decisions, and want to copy you.When your child makes healthy choices, always remember to be encouraging and rewardthem, even if with praise or a hug. Sometimes parents fall for the “you should be doingthat” trap. We see our kid tidy their room, eat a few spoonfuls of a hated food, or doingsome exercise and we say “good, that is what they should be doing, I'm not going to praisewhat they should be doing”. But in reality, that is exactly what we need to praise. We needto let them know that they are doing well, so that they will do it again. We need them tocrave our approval, and reap the rewards they earn. Telling a kid they did well forovercoming a small hurdle is not the same as spoiling them or praising them for somethinguseless. Every step in the right direction must be rewarded for them to make steadyprogress.When your child makes unhealthy choices, think about how you would want to be treatedin that situation. You need to find out what made them make that choice. You need tomake sure that they know it was an unhealthy choice and why. Don't harass them over it,or start telling them off from the beginning. Ask, be friendly, and hear them out. Only whenyou have all the information can you safely decide whether your child needs punishment, anudge in the right direction, or a free pass. Try and treat them with dignity and respect atall times, don't set hurdles that you could not clear yourself, and encourage them to do theright thing with positive examples, not negative words.

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