Healthy eating for kids: Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0
By Sarah Petersen, M.D., Pediatrician
5 OR MORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Aim for five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. These strategies can help you encourage your kids to make healthy food choices:
- Show it. Be a role model – eat your vegetables!
- Choose it. Let picky kids choose which veggies to serve at meals.
- Stock it. Stock the fridge with small bags of cut – up fruits and veggies; then grab and go. Stock the freezer with frozen veggies; they steam quickly and perfectly in the microwave.
- Try it…again. It can take 7 – 10 tries before children become comfortable with new food.
- Grow it. Studies show that kids eat more fruits and veggies when the produce is home – grown.
2 HOURS OR LESS OF SCREEN TIME
Multiple forms of media have become a part of everyday life for most families, but they should be used in moderation. Studies show that American kids spend an average of four hours a day in front of a screen, which can have negative effects on a child’s learning and development.
The 5-2-1-0 program recommends that children over age 2 spend less than two hours each day watching television, on a computer or playing video games. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under 2 avoid screen time altogether.
1 HOUR OR MORE OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
Children need a minimum of one hour of physical activity each day. This doesn’t need to be accomplished all at once. As an example, kids will benefit just as much from walking to school for 10 minutes in the morning, riding their bike for 20 minutes in the afternoon, and going swimming with the family for 30 minutes in the evening.
A child who exercises during the day will sleep better through the night. Regular exercise helps improve a child’s ability to handle emotional and physical challenges; contributes to increase self-esteem; has a positive impact on academic performance; and promotes a strong heart, muscles and bones. Children who exercise are more likely to maintain a healthy weight, and consequently, their risk for type 2 diabetes is decreased.
0 SUGARY DRINKS
Children get little nutritional value from juice (even 100 percent juice) and certainly no nutrition from soda. Most juices contain a large amount of sugar, and even chocolate milk has more sugar than is healthy to be a child’s daily fare. All this extra sugar increases children’s chance of becoming obese.
The goal: Make the switch to water. One way to get children excited about this transition is to allow them to pick out their own water bottles at the store.