During summer vacation, children gain weight up to three times faster than during the school year, according to the National Summer Learning Association. Obesity is a growing, national epidemic, which can lead to serious health problems, including Type 2 diabetes. Making small changes one day at a time can go a long way toward helping your child live a healthier life. You may need the support of your child’s pediatrician or a nutritionist if your child is not at a healthy weight. Friends and family can also help.
You can find great suggestions for improving your family’s health with the Small Starts for Families™ tool from Healthier Tennessee. Watch the video below to learn more.
Healthy habits are particularly important in the summer months, when kids are out of school. Their days are less structured, and they’re more likely to eat junk food.
Here are some tips for starting your child’s healthy summer habits:
- Limit TV and computer time.
- Plan a time with your child to get out of the house for walks, trips to the park or other physical activities.
- The state of Tennessee has an abundance of state parks that are outstanding options for fitness activities for families. Find a park close to you at TNStateParks.com.
- Consider extending the amount of time you and your child spend being active each day. Fitness experts say children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
- Walk or ride bikes together. Change up your route and the time of day you go. This helps keep your child’s interest.
- Trying simple games such as racing, jumping rope, skipping, or playing tag or hide-and-seek will get you and your kids moving together, and remind yourself how much fun playing can be.
- Introducing your kids to sports they haven't tried—for example, soccer, swimming or tennis —can lead to a new favorite activity.
- Eating dinner together as a family is proven to reduce obesity rates. Consider aiming to have at least three sit-down, screen-free meals a week.
- Have your child help with dinner or make a healthy menu that you prepare.
- Use healthier cooking options such as roasting or steaming instead of frying.
- Add one new vegetable each week.
- Limit foods and drinks high in calories and sugar.
- Plan healthy meals and snacks that are eaten away from home to avoid eating fast food.
- Consider rewarding your kids for making healthy choices by giving them treats such as stickers, badges, or a picture book or coloring book instead of sweets.
To set up a customized Small Starts® plan for your family, sign up at HealthierTN.com.
Visit Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness at HealthierTN.com to learn how you and your family can be more physically active, eat nutritious foods in healthy portions and avoid tobacco products.
Create a personalized daily food plan to make healthier eating choices from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s ChooseMyPlate.gov.
Track your nutrition and physical activity to maintain a healthy body weight using the USDA’s SuperTracker.