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How to ensure your child gets enough sleep?

| General Information, Health & Benefits | August 11, 2016

From infants who keep you up all night to teenagers who can sleep all day, children and sleep can be a problem for many parents. While one child may differ from the next in terms of the amount of sleep he needs to function, there can be serious repercussions both in terms of physical and mental health when your child does not get enough sleep.
What is ‘enough’ sleep is the next big question. It all depends on the age of your child. Newborns and infants sleep for most of the day and night but get up at frequent intervals to feed or be changed. By the age of six to eight months your baby should be sleeping for six to ten hours at a stretch (hopefully at night) but don’t be surprised if this isn’t the case. Some kids can be problem sleepers or light sleepers and even the smallest of sounds can wake them. If this is the case, speak to your health care worker or pediatrician for tips on how to get your infant to sleep on a schedule.
As your child moves into school going age, a routine should have fallen in to place. Toddlers and young children require a minimum of nine to twelve hours of sleep at night while middle school going children and teenagers need up to ten hours of sleep at night. As parents, it is your duty to figure out how much sleep your child needs to function properly. Sleep deprivation in growing children and teens can lead to behavioral and emotional problems. This happens because sleep affects that part of the brain that controls and regulates emotions and responses. Proper amount of sleep is also essential for brain development in children. For teenagers, sleeping at night induces the release of the hormone require for growth and physical development.
Some signs that your child is well rested include:
He can fall asleep easily at night (usually within 15 to 30 minutes of getting into bed).
He wakes up fresh and active and does not need constant cajoling to get up.
He is alert and active throughout the day. You can check with his teachers in school to verify this as well.
If this is not the case, there are things you can do to improve the situation. Some tried and tested ways to get your kid to bed in time and inculcate good sleep habits include:
Make bedtime something to be looked forward to. Build a ritual around sleep time such as bathing, story time, and night cuddles before firmly insisting that he sleeps at the correct time.
Be aware of your child’s routines and habits. Some children start to fade in the early evening; this is the time for parents to wind down their day and get dinner and bath time started. In this way, you can avoid meltdowns and tantrums that are bound to follow with a cranky tired child.
Stick to a routine. This is the most important. Children thrive on routine and anything unexpected can throw them off balance. Wake up at the same time everyday, eat meals regularly and schedule in some study and play time. All of these steps will help towards ensuring that your child gets the sleep he needs.
It is best that your child does not have a TV or computer in his room. Access to media and games can affect brain patterns and agitate children to the point of sleeplessness.

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10 Tips for Parents : Kids & Foods

| General Information, Health & Benefits | August 2, 2016


It’s no surprise that parents might need some help understanding what it means to eat healthy. From the MyPlate food guide to the latest food fad, it can be awfully confusing.

The good news is that you don’t need a degree in nutrition to raise healthy kids. Following some basic guidelines can help you encourage your kids to eat right and maintain a healthy weight.

Here are 10 key rules to live by:

1. Parents control the supply lines. You decide which foods to buy and when to serve them. Though kids will pester their parents for less nutritious foods, adults should be in charge when deciding which foods are regularly stocked in the house. Kids won’t go hungry. They’ll eat what’s available in the cupboard and fridge at home. If their favorite snack isn’t all that nutritious, you can still buy it once in a while so they don’t feel deprived.

2. From the foods you offer, kids get to choose what they will eat or whether to eat at all. Kids need to have some say in the matter. Schedule regular meal and snack times. From the selections you offer, let them choose what to eat and how much of it they want. This may seem like a little too much freedom. But if you follow step 1, your kids will be choosing only from the foods you buy and serve.

3. Quit the “clean-plate club.” Let kids stop eating when they feel they’ve had enough. Lots of parents grew up under the clean-plate rule, but that approach doesn’t help kids listen to their own bodies when they feel full. When kids notice and respond to feelings of fullness, they’re less likely to overeat.

4. Start them young. Food preferences are developed early in life, so offer variety. Likes and dislikes begin forming even when kids are babies. You may need to serve a new food a few different times for a child to accept it. Don’t force a child to eat, but offer a few bites. With older kids, ask them to try one bite.

5. Rewrite the kids’ menu. Who says kids only want to eat hot dogs, pizza, burgers, and macaroni and cheese? When eating out, let your kids try new foods and they might surprise you with their willingness to experiment. You can start by letting them try a little of whatever you ordered or ordering an appetizer for them to try.

6. Drink calories count. Soda and other sweetened drinks add extra calories and get in the way of good nutrition. Water and milk are the best drinks for kids. Juice is fine when it’s 100%, but kids don’t need much of it — 4 to 6 ounces a day is enough for preschoolers.

7. Put sweets in their place. Occasional sweets are fine, but don’t turn dessert into the main reason for eating dinner. When dessert is the prize for eating dinner, kids naturally place more value on the cupcake than the broccoli. Try to stay neutral about foods.

8. Food is not love. Find better ways to say “I love you.” When foods are used to reward kids and show affection, they may start using food to cope with stress or other emotions. Offer hugs, praise, and attention instead of food treats.

9. Kids do as you do. Be a role model and eat healthy yourself. When trying to teach good eating habits, try to set the best example possible. Choose nutritious snacks, eat at the table, and don’t skip meals.

10. Limit TV and computer time. When you do, you’ll avoid mindless snacking and encourage activity. Research has shown that kids who cut down on TV-watching also reduced their percentage of body fat. When TV and computer time are limited, they’ll find more active things to do. And limiting “screen time” means you’ll have more time to be active together.




Source: Kids & Foods

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8 Healthy Tips For Healthy Eating

| General Information, Health & Benefits | August 1, 2016


These eight practical tips cover the basics of healthy eating, and can help you make healthier choices.

  1. Base your meals on starchy carbohydrates
  2. Eat lots of fruit and veg
  3. Eat more fish – including a portion of oily fish
  4. Cut down on saturated fat and sugar
  5. Eat less salt – no more than 6g a day for adults
  6. Get active and be a healthy weight
  7. Don’t get thirsty
  8. Don’t skip breakfast

The key to a healthy diet is to:
Eat the right amount of calories for how active you are, so that you balance the energy you consume with the energy you use. If you eat or drink too much, you’ll put on weight. If you eat and drink too little, you’ll lose weight.
Eat a wide range of foods to ensure that you’re getting a balanced diet and that your body is receiving all the nutrients it needs.
It is recommended that men have around 2,500 calories a day (10,500 kilojoules). Women should have around 2,000 calories a day (8,400 kilojoules). Most adults are eating more calories than they need, and should eat fewer calories.
Base your meals on starchy carbohydrates
Starchy carbohydrates should make up just over one third of the food you eat. They include potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and cereals.
Choose wholegrain varieties (or eat potatoes with their skins on) when you can: they contain more fibre, and can help you feel full for longer.
Most of us should eat more starchy foods: try to include at least one starchy food with each main meal. Some people think starchy foods are fattening, but gram for gram the carbohydrate they contain provides fewer than half the calories of fat.
Keep an eye on the fats you add when you’re cooking or serving these types of foods because that’s what increases the calorie content, for example oil on chips, butter on bread and creamy sauces on pasta.
Eat lots of fruit and veg
It’s recommended that we eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and veg every day. It’s easier than it sounds. A 150ml glass of unsweetened 100% fruit juice or smoothie can count as one portion, and vegetables cooked into dishes also count.
Why not chop a banana over your breakfast cereal, or swap your usual mid-morning snack for a piece of fresh fruit?
Eat more fish – including a portion of oily fish
Fish is a good source of protein and contains many vitamins and minerals. Aim to eat at least two portions of fish a week, including at least one portion of oily fish. Oily fish contains omega-3 fats, which may help to prevent heart disease.
Oily fish include:
fresh tuna
Non-oily fish include:
canned tuna
If you regularly eat a lot of fish, try to choose as wide a variety as possible.
You can choose from fresh, frozen and canned: but remember that canned and smoked fish can be high in salt.
Cut down on saturated fat and sugar
Saturated fat in our diet
We all need some fat in our diet, but it’s important to pay attention to the amount and type of fat we’re eating. There are two main types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which increases your risk of developing heart disease.
The average man should have no more than 30g saturated fat a day. The average woman should have no more than 20g saturated fat a day, and children should have less than adults.
Saturated fat is found in many foods, such as:
hard cheese
Try to cut down on your saturated fat intake, and choose foods that contain unsaturated fats instead, such as vegetable oils, oily fish and avocados.
For a healthier choice, use just a small amount of vegetable oil or reduced-fat spread instead of butter, lard or ghee. When you’re having meat, choose lean cuts and cut off any visible fat.
Sugar in our diet
Regularly consuming foods and drinks high in sugar increases your risk of obesity and tooth decay.
Sugary foods and drinks, including alcoholic drinks, are often high in energy (measured in kilojoules or calories), and if eaten too often, can contribute to weight gain. They can also cause tooth decay, especially if eaten between meals.
Many packaged foods and drinks contain surprisingly high amounts of free sugars. Free sugars are any sugars added to foods or drinks, or found naturally in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices.
Cut down on:
sugary fizzy drinks
alcoholic drinks
sugary breakfast cereals
These foods contain added sugars: this is the kind of sugar we should be cutting down on, rather than sugars that are found in things such as fruit and milk.
Food labels can help: use them to check how much sugar foods contain. More than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g means that the food is high in sugar, while 5g of total sugars or less per 100g means that the food is low in sugar.
Get tips on cutting down sugar in your diet.
Eat less salt – no more than 6g a day for adults
Eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure. People with high blood pressure are more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke.
Even if you don’t add salt to your food, you may still be eating too much. About three-quarters of the salt we eat is already in the food we buy, such as breakfast cereals, soups, breads and sauces.
Use food labels to help you cut down. More than 1.5g of salt per 100g means the food is high in salt. Adults and children over 11 should eat no more than 6g of salt (about a teaspoonful) a day. Younger children should have even less.
Get tips on cutting down on salt in your diet.
Get active and be a healthy weight
Eating a healthy, balanced diet plays an essential role in maintaining a healthy weight, which is an important part of overall good health.
Being overweight or obese can lead to health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease and stroke. Being underweight could also affect your health.
Check whether you’re a healthy weight by using our Healthy weight calculator.
Most adults need to lose weight, and need to eat fewer calories to do this. If you’re trying to lose weight, aim to eat less and be more active. Eating a healthy, balanced diet will help: aim to cut down on foods that are high in saturated fat and sugar, and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Don’t forget that alcohol is also high in calories, so cutting down can help you to control your weight.
Physical activity can help you to maintain weight loss or be a healthy weight. Being active doesn’t have to mean hours at the gym: you can find ways to fit more activity into your daily life. For example, try getting off the bus one stop early on the way home from work, and walking.
Being physically active may help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. For more ideas, see Get active your way.
After getting active, remember not to reward yourself with a treat that is high in energy. If you feel hungry after activity, choose foods or drinks that are lower in calories, but still filling.
If you’re underweight, see our page on underweight adults. If you’re worried about your weight, ask your GP or a dietitian for advice.
Don’t get thirsty
We need to drink plenty of fluids to stop us getting dehydrated – the government recommends 6-8 glasses every day. This is in addition to the fluid we get from the food we eat. All non-alcoholic drinks count, but water and lower-fat milk are healthier choices.
Try to avoid sugary soft and fizzy drinks that are high in added sugars and calories, and are also bad for teeth. Even unsweetened fruit juice and smoothies are high in free sugar, so limit how much you drink to no more than one 150ml glass of fruit juice each day.
When the weather is warm, or when we get active, we may need more fluids.
Don’t skip breakfast
Some people skip breakfast because they think it will help them lose weight. In fact, research shows that eating breakfast can help people control their weight.
A healthy breakfast is an important part of a balanced diet, and provides some of the vitamins and minerals we need for good health.
A wholegrain, lower-sugar cereal with fruit sliced over the top is a tasty and nutritious breakfast.
More information
To help you get the right balance of the five main food groups, take a look at the Eatwell Guide. To maintain a healthy diet, the Eatwell Guide shows you how much of what you eat should come from each food group. It’s important to have only small amounts of foods high in fat and/or sugar.
Learn how to have a balanced diet, and read about the energy contained in food in our page on understanding calories.
Download Losing weight: Getting started, a 12-week weight loss guide that combines advice on healthier eating and physical activity.



source: Eight Healthy Tips

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