“You should be healthy!” This is not a novel piece of advice. However, too often we use the word healthy without understand what exactly it looks like. And the truth is that, “healthy” can look like a number of things! It can take on different body types, lifestyles, and cultures! But, there are also some consistencies among everyone who is healthy. Before you talk to your children about staying healthy, it is important that you understand what it means to be healthy. So, what does it mean to be healthy?
A person who is considered healthy typically has three main characteristics:
- Balanced diet - A balanced diet is one that contains all the nutrients a person needs to be healthy. These nutrients include proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. A diet that is high in nutritious foods and low in unhealthy foods is considered to be balanced. There are many benefits of eating a balanced diet. Perhaps the most important benefit is that it can help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can also help improve mental health and reduce the risk of depression and anxiety. Children need a balanced diet for proper growth and development. Just like adults, kids need all the essential nutrients to build strong bones and muscles, develop properly both mentally and physically, resist infections, heal cuts and bruises quickly, and have enough energy to play and learn effectively. In addition, a nutritious diet can help children concentrate better in school, get good grades ,and establish healthy eating habits that will last into adulthood.
- Exercises regularly - It is important for children to exercise regularly because it helps them maintain a healthy weight, build strong bones and muscles, and improve their mental health. Several studies have shown that children who are physically active tend to be healthier overall than those who are inactive. For example, they are more likely to have a lower body mass index (BMI), which is a measure of body fatness. They also tend to have stronger bones and muscles, and better cardiovascular fitness. In addition, regular physical activity can help improve mental health in children. It can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and increase self-esteem. Exercise has also been shown to improve academic performance by improving concentration and focus.
- Gets enough sleep. Of course, being healthy isn’t just about physical wellbeing. Mental and emotional health are also important parts of the equation. The benefits of sleep are well-documented. Getting a good night’s sleep can improve your mood, help you concentrate and perform better at school or work, and even boost your immune system. But did you know that sleep is also important for children’s mental health? A growing body of research suggests that there is a strong link between sleep and mental health in children. Studies have shown that children who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have behavior problems, such as ADHD, and are at greater risk for depression and anxiety. Some experts believe that the lack of quality sleep may be one of the factors behind the increase in mental health problems in children over the past few decades. So why is sleep so important for children’s mental health? One theory is that during sleep, our brains consolidate memories and process emotions from the day. This helps us to make sense of our experiences and put them into perspective. For children who are experiencing stress or trauma, this emotional processing is especially important in helping them to cope with difficult experiences. Another theory is that sleep plays a role in regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which are involved in mood regulation. When these neurotransmitters are out of balance, it can lead to symptoms of depression or anxiety. A third theory suggests thatsleep deprivation can actually change the structure of the brain, making it more difficult for kids to regulate their emotions effectively. Whatever the exact mechanism may be, it’s clear that getting enough quality sleep is essential for children’s mental health.
So how do you talk to your children about what it means to be healthy? Here are a few tips:
- Talk about why being healthy is important. Explain that it helps our bodies function properly, makes us feel good, and gives us energy to do things we enjoy.
- Help them understand what a balanced diet looks like. Teach them about the different food groups and why it’s important to eat from all of them. Show them how to read nutrition labels so they can make informed choices when they’re grocery shopping or eating out.
- Encourage them to keep track of how much time they spend being active every day! Taking part in physical activity not only benefits our physical health but also our mental wellbeing too! Brainstorm together some fun ways to get moving – swimming, playing tag, riding bikes…the options are endless! And don’t forget – even everyday activities like walking the dog count as exercise!
You can talk to your kid about staying healthy in a number of different ways. Maybe you want to be more blunt about it - sit them down and talk to them about how important it is to be healthy and what that means for them individually. You could also take a more casual approach by acknowledging when they do something you consider to be healthy and when they do something that might be less healthy. Just be aware, if you start calling your kid out just be aware….they might fire back!