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Category ArchiveFood & Fitness

Starting your child on an exercise program

An exercise program for your children is so important because of the large amount of health problems associated with those are inactive—namely obesity. Since 1974, the number of  children classified as obese under the age of 11 has increased more than four times; from  roughly 4 per cent to over 16 per cent in 2000 with the single largest cause of obesity is lack of exercise.

To help your child avoid these health risks, not to mention the psychological risks of being outcast because of weight, you need to set them up on a regular exercise program. Children’s exercise programs are not hard to do—just get them outside or keep them inside, but focus on them getting active.

It’s important to realize than a children’s exercise program does not necessarily mean pumping iron—rather it has more to do with cardiovascular activities that burn lots of energy. Examples of great cardiovascular activities are running, swimming, rowing,canoeing, rock climbing—the list goes on. It also doesn’t need to be simply running—it can be a game of tag, catch, playing soccer outdoors; anything that gets your kids heart beating and gets them sweating a bit.

Research has also shown that obese children tend to be more depressed than other children who are fit. In addition, physical activities, especially cardiovascular activities can actually make you feel great. The so called “runner’s high” is caused when someone who is engaged a high amount of cardiovascular activity gets a massive dump of dopamine into the brain—a chemical that instills a euphoric state in the person doing the activity, a natural high.

It would seem logical that getting your child on an exercise program should be a paramount as a parent to ensure the health and happiness of your child. But along with the exercise goes a good diet, healthy relationships, staying active, and of course, laughing a lot. All of these things contribute to your child’s life, and an exercise program for your child is, in reality, just a piece of the puzzle.

Mindful Eating, ADHD and Nutrition

The words attention deficit are so strongly associated with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), many people overlook other far-reaching consequences of the disorder. Among them are poor eating habits, eating disorders, and a higher-than-average risk of becoming overweight as a result of having ADHD. For example, a recent study linked ADHD to binge eating. How these eating issues happen makes a lot of sense when you understand the impact of ADHD on life management as a whole.

Executive function includes cognitive abilities that act as the brain’s manager. ADHD is essentially a consequence of poor executive function, not inattention or impulsiveness. That means it undermines skills such as time management, decision making, organization, and planning. For people with ADHD all these management-level mental abilities can be difficult.

Striking a Balance between the Delicious and the Nutritious

Embraced in a lifestyle that is beaming with options, we all get to frequent malls and supermarkets with aisles full of foods spoiling us with choices like never before. Add to that food offered by street vendors, again, in a bewildering variety of temptations. Now, as parents, what food shall we choose for our children?

Well, the bottom-line is, the simplest foods are still the best for children. Whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, unprocessed meats, and natural dairy goods have always been and will always be the best choices to make.

However, the conflict resides in the battle between taste buds and health needs. Let’s face it, we, as urban twenty-first century parents, encourage a great deal of children’s personal preferences in food. The reasons are evident: children these days are more opinionated about their personal likes and dislikes; moreover, readymade delicacies are at the finger tips, thanks to the countless dial-ins in the neighborhood – an easy way out to pamper taste buds with mouth-watering indulgences.

So, what do we do to strike a balance between the delicious and the nutritious? One simple thing to do is to read the labels before purchasing food items. Most labels indicate the contents of additives, preservatives, emulsifying agents, and so on. The ground rule is, lesser the added components, better are the nutritional values. For example, a loaf of whole grain bread with basic ingredients is a better choice over a fancy loaf with a whole paragraph of refined ingredients. So stick to the basics or the naturals, in as unprocessed forms as possible.

Children should be encouraged at a very early age to eat natural produce. It is far better to have your child chew through an orange rather than picking that convenient carton of juice. Instant noodles are yet another favorite grub with children, but you will think twice as parents if you visited the inside story. An anti-freeze ingredient called propylene glycol, used to retain the optimum level of moisture in instant noodles, is believed to be weakening the immune system. Add to that the flavoring agents, the high sodium content, and the wax – certainly not best friends to health.

Stick to the basic and the wholesome. Correct food choice is not about recipes, but about ingredients. Instead of those sodium and chemical laden pizza sauces, consider coming up your own version. All you need is a fusion of extra virgin cold pressed olive oil, some Italian seasoning, and natural taste builders like tomatoes, olives, etc. And there you go, load your home-made pizza with your loved one’s favorite toppings! Sneak in an enormous amount of vegetables onto the disc, along with a generous spread of grilled proteins like chicken or lean fish. This will make nothing less than a visual, gustatory, and nutritive treat to your child. Avoid loading down with more than just a thin layer of cheese. When the tangy tomatoes and the vegetables bubble together in the oven, the freshness of the ingredients and the enhanced flavors will make your child not notice the lack of cheese or the big portion of veggies they ate. And you can pat yourself on the back for a job done well!