The ongoing obesity problem doesn’t show any signs of decreasing. The major worry is how this affects school-age youths. Healthy eating and fitness education from a young age will lay the groundwork for living a healthy life into adulthood. When educating young people about health and nutrition, the key is to keep it simple and straightforward. If healthy eating is seen as a chore, or something requiring too much effort, this would be counter-productive. Here is a practical guide for children and teenagers to encourage a healthy lifestyle:
- Increase water intake — by replacing the empty calories and sugar in fizzy drinks/energy drinks with water you will not only benefit your teeth and skin but you will help prevent excess weight.
- Try walking to school instead of travelling by car or bus, if this is practical — just doing this a couple of times a week will improve fitness. Walking for fitness is a great form of exercise which most people can participate in.
- Eat a decent, nutritious breakfast before school — porridge, eggs, yoghurt and fruit are all examples of a nourishing breakfast. They are far better for you than calorie-laden breakfast rolls or sugary cereals which are not only fattening, but also contain little in the way of nutrition.
- Replace chocolate bars and sweets with muesli bars or a banana or apple. If buying lunch, replace chips, pizza and burgers with wraps filled with lean chicken and salad. If you normally eat crisps, try baked versions and avoid the oversized grab-bags that bump up calories.
- Try to organise after-school or weekend events with peers that involve some form of activity such as swimming, tennis, hiking or even crazy golf. These are good alternatives to the cinema or video games and will help reduce the screen time that most teens indulge in.
By making a few small changes to diet and adding in some regular exercise, you will soon see the benefits of healthy eating and exercise. Not only will you stand a better chance of keeping up these practices into adulthood, but you will help contribute towards a healthier lifestyle.