Tips, Tools and Activities
In the spirit of Independence Day this month, use the holiday to encourage and support your children becoming more independent with food choices. At outdoor gatherings this month, coach your children to make their own plates. They will remember the healthier practices discussed at home. (e.g., food is fuel, water is the primary beverage, whole grains, mindful eating). For example, if fruits and vegetables are provided with every meal at home, watch your child select brightly colored fruit and veggie dishes at the outing. Have open conversations about how some foods may leave us feeling tired or sluggish, while other choices keep our energy levels steady. Have them listen to their bodies and remind them not to overfill the "gas tank" at the gathering. Enjoy watching them grow and become independent.
During the warmer months of the year, healthy eating will also need to include "Outdoor Food Safety 101." During the summer months, there may be more meals enjoyed outside, so make sure to follow food safety guidelines. For example, when grilling meat and poultry ensure the protein is cooked to the right internal temperature using a thermometer.
- Poultry (whole or ground) - 165 Â°F
- Ground meat - 160 Â°F
- Beef, pork, lamb, veal - 145 Â°F
Prevent picnic dishes (e.g., chicken salad, hotdogs, burgers, egg salad) from being left out at room temperature for more than two hours. Set a timer once the food has been served. Before the timer goes off, place the food back into a refrigerator or cooler. Bacteria and pathogens thrive on foods high in protein and water content.
Having a nightly routine in the summer is important to help us all fall asleep easier and stay asleep overnight. We still need to get a good night's rest during the summer because our brains and bodies are still learning and growing. Schedule a wind-down time with activities that support healthy sleep habits. Whether it's reading a book, sitting around and talking about your days, or playing a game, doing something relaxing will help everyone calm down before bed time. Having a set bed time that everyone knows will help maintain that routine. Studies show that going to sleep at the same time every night and rising at a similar time in the mornings help your body reset and be more productive the next day.
Q: What does moderate to vigorous physical (MVP) activity mean and why do we need it every day?
A: The recommendation for children is 60 minutes every day of MVP is a preventive health measure and reduces one's risk of cardiovascular disease. This type of activity describes how hard the body is working to conduct or sustain the activity. For example, when we use large muscle groups, such as our legs, our body is working in this desired range. Spend time coaching your children to understand when they are working in the MVP range. Examples of MVP include brisk walking, swimming, biking, playing soccer, and running. We can assess our workload by using a simple talk test. If we can sing a song this indicates that we need to increase the speed or make larger movements. When our body is working within the moderate to vigorous range we can talk, but may use shorter sentences. If the activity is too strenuous we may be gasping for air, turning red, or having a hard time breathing. This is not necessary to receive health benefits. Think about activities that are fun for the entire family, include laughter, and keep the body in constant motion. Anything that gets you and your family up and moving counts.