Idle Young who Risk their Lives
We are currently raising a generation of couch potatoes who have changed healthy sport and games for computer games and mobile phones risking their health with heart problems and premature death according to recent researches.
This new sit-at-home lifestyle combined with a diet of high-fat snack foods such as burgers and chips are causing our future generations to be very idle and unhealthy, spotting the problem will allow parents to do something before it’s too late.
What can be done about it ?
Nowadays the average child spends at least 40 hours a week glued to their favourite TV programmes, computer games and social networks; limiting that time to no more than 30 minutes a day will help, if the cycle of inactivity is broken parents are taking a very positive step towards solving the problem.
Whenever possible children should be encouraged to walk to school or to the shops with their friends, as this alone increases their chances of reaching adulthood without suffering from serious heart conditions.
Eating habits must also be changed, latest studies reveal that more than 50% of children aged 5 – 18 are not eating enough fibre and starchy foods and one in ten children are not getting enough iron. Even more worrying is that most 14 to 17 year olds know what food they should eat but ignore them anyway, parents must make sure that their children find a healthy balance both in diet and exercise.
Are parents totally at fault ?
Not really, schools have changed the focus given to PE classes, compared with 50 years ago, students today spend a 50% less time doing sports and games, this time has been replaced with less practical classes which although useful have reduced the physical exercise children are taking.
A daily diet full of sugar-laden snacks.
Most teenagers either skip breakfast completely of just have a few cereals or biscuits, then at school they will probably buy a load of sweets or sugar-laden soft drinks at the school canteen. In the morning break 9 out of 10 students will eat sweets or biscuits. Lunch is another factor where only four in 10 secondary students have a hot meal, the rest will either eat sandwiches or more sweets and biscuits. Back home most children will have crisps, snacks or biscuits instead of a hot evening meal.
Healthy habits for Breakfast
A child whose last meal was dinner the night before is hungry whether he knows it or not, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and take into account that teachers usually schedule the ÒheavyÓ subjects for the morning hours so it’s essential that the child/teen is sufficiently fuelled to withstand these subjects.
A doughnut will only provide 40 minutes of energy rush where a complete nutritious breakfast will supply several hours of energy. If you are struggling to get your child to eat their breakfast offer them 2 different options just make sure they both have a high nutritive value. Try a breakfast buffet with sliced fresh fruit, finger food vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, teacakes or muffins, cereals, yogurt, etc. This usually gets the children interested in the food and allows them to choose according to their feelings that day.
Healthy habits for Lunch
It’s quite common for teens to become bored to tears with their lunch so it’s probably time you got a bit more creative, fresh fruit is essential but a whole apple or orange becomes quite monotonous try chopping them up into fruit cocktails, they can be combined with natural yoghurt to make a really tasty dish. You can also use a cookie cutter to make your sandwich shapes more original and inviting. Try mixing tuna fish with sliced cucumbers, grated carrots, hard boiled egg or anything else you may have handy to make the sandwiches a lot healthier while hiding the ingredients with a bit of mayonnaise.
Most kids when they get home from school need a quick snack, which also provides them with an energy boost, dried fruits are a very good option and the combinations are limitless, provide them with a mixed bowl, you can prepare a weeks supply in little air tight containers and each one can be different; combine nuts, coconut shaving, dates, sunflower seeds, dehydrated fruits, dried corn. Another excellent snack can be provided with cheese chunks and whole wheat crackers, these make an excellent combination which is light and healthy.
Healthy habits for Dinner.
Let the youngsters serve themselves and decide how much they put on their plate, they can always get a second helping if they want more. You should make it a habit that they must try every dish that has been prepared, a minimum should be eaten from each dish, this avoids them falling into the habit of using the excuse ÒI don’t like thatÓ when they haven’t even tried the dish, your child should have to try every dish, if they don’t like it they don’t have to eat any more, but a minimum must be eaten. Remember to make food attractive and interesting and avoid monotonous food, cutting food up into fancy shapes is always a winner in originality. You should try and get your youngsters involved in the family menu, let them suggest foods and if they are old enough get them involved in the preparation too, it’s always a good idea to take them with you to the grocery store and get them involved in choosing the food.
ONCE IT’S ALL READY TURN OFF THE TV AND SIT DOWN AT THE DINNER TABLE TO A NICE MEAL AND A GOOD FAMILY CONVERSATION.
Keith Appleby (Chief Editor)
The Canary Express