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Raising Healthy Kids

I found it funny that just after writing my little ditty about sublingual vitamins, I see a headline on Yahoo!Health about “pixy stix” vitamins – I just had to read the article. Now, I am all for doing everything we can to raise healthy kids, but I don’t think making their vitamins seem like candy is a good way to do it. Here’s the skinny on these new vitamins: a company called alternatives developed a powdered vitamin that “melts quickly in your mouth” as an alternative for people who have a hard time swallowing pills. There is an adult and child version available and they come in multiple flavors.

While I agree that taking any vitamin is better than none, I still don’t think we should be “tricking” our kids into taking them. I’ve never been a fan of the gummy vitamins either, for that matter. It seemed like every time I gave one to my son he always asked for more, and it’s hard to explain to a 2 year old that this particular gummy thing he was eating is different from all the other gummy candies he has encountered in his life. Ilyse Schapiro, MS, RD, CDN, a Westchester, NY registered dietician, who was quoted in the Yahoo! article says, it is “possible for kids to get all the nutrients they need from a healthy diet” – but with the busy and fast paced lives most of us lead, I can’t imagine that really happening for a large number of families.

There are lots of things we can do to help ensure we are raising healthy kids, and taking vitamins is certainly one of those things, but I don’t think we need to resort to “pixy stix” vitamins or vitamins shaped like your child’s favorite cartoon character to teach our kids how to be healthy and make good choices. I think the most important thing we can do to help our kids make healthier choices is to lead by example. I say this as a bit of a personal challenge because I know from experience that sometimes it’s easier to drive through somewhere on your way home rather than going through the hassle of cooking dinner after a long day, but we don’t want to raise kids who don’t know how to cook for themselves and come to rely on take out and premade meals to get them through life. I have a friend whose kids will not eat a cooked chicken breast, but will down chicken nuggets from just about any fast food place by the handful. Healthy kids should know what real food looks like and most importantly tastes like.

Another facet of leading by example is to encourage our children to be more active. Healthy kids are active kids! I don’t necessarily think the TV is evil (I don’t think my son wouldn’t know his ABCs so well if it weren’t for LeapFrog) but it’s all in how we use it. I think we could all stand to turn off the tv, computer, ipod, ipad, etc and spend a little more time interacting and playing with each other! It will do our body, minds and spirits good! Another article on Yahoo! states: “The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which includes recommendations for exercise as well as for nutrition, says that children should get 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise daily.” While an hour may SOUND like a long time to keep your child active, just remember it doesn’t necessarily need to be in one big block. Playing tag with your child, going on a bike ride or walking to a nearby park are all ways you can be a part of your child’s physical activity.

There are lots of little things we can do to make sure we’re raising healthy kids, but in the end it all starts with you, as the adult, you are the example. Kids are far more likely to do what we do and not what we say, if those two things aren’t the same. Decide today to be a positive role model for healthy habits in the lives of the children you’re around. Choosing a carrot over a cookie, or going for a walk instead of watching another TV show are the little choices that can add up to a whole generation of healthy kids.

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