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February 09, 2018
Teach Your Kid to Eat Like an Olympian

From figure skating to snowboarding and curling, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, but would your kid’s eating habits earn the gold medal? Athletes train their whole lives to compete in the Olympics and nutrition is a key part of their training regimen. Use the Winter Olympics as a springboard to start a conversation with your child about the importance of healthy eating.  Here are five healthy eating tips that every family can implement with ease:

Don’t Skip Breakfast
There’s a reason why they say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A healthy blend of protein, fiber and carbs will help kick-start your metabolism and fuel your body for the busy day ahead.  Eating breakfast not only helps improve your body’s energy level but also boosts your brain’s performance.  Numerous research studies show that eating breakfast improves important brain functions like short term memory and concentration.  While mornings may be one of the most hectic parts of the day for your family, it’s important to make time for breakfast.  You can make ahead breakfast options like overnight oats, greek yogurt parfaits or boiled eggs so that your kid always has an easy grab and go meal.

Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is important for regulating your body’s temperature, digesting foods and improving athletic performance.  Children are more prone to dehydration than adults because their bodies don’t cool down as efficiently.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children drink six glasses of water a day, and they should drink even more if the weather is warm or they are participating in sports or other physical activities. To help your kid keep track of how much water they’ve consumed you can use a permanent marker to mark portions along the side of a reusable water bottle. You can also check in with your child throughout the day to make sure they’re regularly hydrating.

Eat the Rainbow
Fruits and vegetables come in a rainbow of colors and choosing produce in a variety of shades ensures you take advantage of all the vitamins and nutrients that nature has to offer. Eating a rainbow of foods allows you to get the full range of nutrients needed to support a healthy heart, healthy bones and a strong immune system. You can bring your kids along with you to the produce section of the grocery store and encourage them to pick out one item from each color of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and even white).  If you don’t want to bring your child shopping you can sit down and brainstorm the grocery list together; as a fun bonus, you can use a different colored crayons to write down each item on the list.  Challenging your kid to eat the rainbow is a fun way to create a balanced diet and can also serve as an opportunity to try new things.

Eat Whole Foods, Not Processed Foods
The term “whole foods” refers to grains, beans, fruits and vegetables that are as close to their natural state as possible.  Whole foods tend to be higher in fiber, vitamins and minerals when compared to processed foods.  Processed foods are often high in sodium and may contain hydrogenated oils or hidden allergens.  For example, canned peaches, a processed food, are usually stripped of the fiber and nutrient rich skin and packed into a can with sugar and preservatives.  Teach your kids to pick fruits and veggies in their “natural” state over their processed counterparts.

Eat Often
Eating regularly throughout the course of the day helps to boost your metabolism and keep your blood sugar from crashing.  Eating small meals with snacks in between is clinically proven to help maintain your energy level throughout the day.  Your kid will play harder on and off the field and maintain a better level of concentration in school if they are regularly fueling their body.  To help your child stay full and energized choose snacks high in protein and fiber, like an apple with a handful of almonds or baby carrots with nut butter.
Balance and moderation are always key in a maintaining a healthy diet. It’s okay to have the occasional treat, but teaching your child to focus on making healthy choices will set them up for a lifetime of success. Be a role model for child and set the example by making healthy choices yourself; nothing is a better motivator for your child than following your lead. 
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