It is every parents wish to have healthy, happy and fun loving children. Most parents are vigilant that their children are exposed to the right elements that will facilitate good health and form good habits.
Setting an example is the foremost important action a parent can take. When a child sees their parent living a healthy lifestyle filled with exercise and healthy eating habits, this lifestyle is embedded in them and become lifelong practices. The Cayman community also has a vested interest in promoting and developing programs that help develop healthy habits.
Many organizations and businesses in the Cayman Islands are dedicated to wellness initiatives. One of these programs, the Be Active & Eat Smart Program, has been in Cayman for 5 years and is still going strong.
Be Active & Eat Smart is a children’s fitness and healthy eating program developed by Generali Worldwide during 2005 working in cooperation with students, teachers, parents, community leaders and health professionals in Cayman. The goal of the program is to educate kids about healthy behaviors through educational and experiential activities in school to help them develop healthy habits that last a lifetime.
During the 2005-2006 school year Generali partnered with local schools to develop materials and activities they could use to promote health and fitness. The pilot project grew with involvement by many sponsoring businesses and other organizations and has continued with the coordination and dedication of Laura Ribbins of Fitness Connection and Nutritionist Andrea Hill.
We are still in the process of implementing the program for this year, but our goal is to give a little piece of Be Active to all primary schools and really support schools that are taking the Be Active Program to another level, such as First Baptist Christian School.
Food is your child’s fuel. It keeps him or her growing strong, playing long and looking and feeling good. However, as all parents know, children can be picky when it comes to eating. The following healthy eating tips will help your child have a healthy attitude toward eating.
Serve a variety of food each day. A daily combination of food from the following five food groups gives your child all the protein, carbohydrates, fat and vitamins and minerals he or she needs. Health experts agree that children younger than 2 years old should have no dietary restrictions. They should drink whole milk, since they need fat, cholesterol and high-energy foods to help them grow.
• 2-3 servings of milk, yogurt or cheese
• 3-5 servings of vegetables
• 2-3 servings of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs or nuts
• 2-4 servings of fruits
• 6-11 servings of bread (especially whole-grain bread), cereal, rice or pasta
In general, daily intake should be 2,200 calories for children and teen-age girls and 2,800 calories for teen-age boys.
Encourage your child to be physically active.
Low levels of physical activity are a significant factor in the high prevalence of obesity among children today. Outside play and after-school sports help keep kids fit (along with limited TV viewing).
Make breakfast a habit. Eating a balanced breakfast that includes cereal with low-fat milk, whole-wheat toast and fruit can help children do better in school.
Choose snacks from different food groups – a glass of low-fat milk, a few graham crackers or an apple, a carrot and a celery stick.
Give children choices regarding what and how much they eat. They don’t need all the major food groups in one meal, as long as they are getting a variety over time. Avoid bribing or cajoling them to finish their plates or eat certain foods.
Encourage your child to be adventurous.
How about an English muffin pizza topped with tomato sauce and low-fat cheese?
Avoid mystery foods. Encourage your children to help in the kitchen so they become familiar with different foods. They’ll be more likely to eat what they have helped make.
Make meals visually enticing.
Children appreciate an attractive plate with variety color, flavor, and texture.
Make substitutions. Substitute eggs, peanut butter, beans and fish for meat in dishes and serve meat as a side dish or as a finger food. Substitute rice, potato and pasta for breads or cereal. Alternatives for milk include puddings, yogurt or cottage cheese.
Help your children learn more about the foods they eat and understand the value of a nutritious and balanced diet. And set good example for them by making your own sensible eating choices.
Maureen Cubbon is Manager of Marketing, Communications and Health & Wellness for Generali Worldwide.
For more information on the Be Active Program, please contact [email protected]