The ABCs of Real Fitness & Nutrition for the Entire Family

By Laura Buxenbaum

With New Years just behind us, many of us are still renewing our commitment to a healthy lifestyle. This year attack the age-old lose weight and eat healthier pledge from a different perspective and make it a family resolution. Every parent knows, teaching children healthy lifestyle habits can be a challenge. But it’s not impossible – in fact, the building blocks to a healthy family can be as easy as A-B-C: Aim for Activity, Bring Back Breakfast and Choose Snacks Cautiously.

Aim for Activity
Did you know that one out of three American adolescents is physically unfit? This sets the stage for heart disease later in life. To keep kids healthy, we need to keep them moving. Just one hour a day of movement can help your child de-stress, increase self-esteem and confidence, be fit to learn, and maintain a healthy weight. Not to mention build bones of steel, strong muscles, and sleep better at night. What a deal! Playing ball, tag, bike riding, walking the dog, roller skating or after school sports– the possibilities are endless.

Children learn best by example, so lace up your sneakers and make exercise a family affair. Take a bike ride after school, an after dinner walk or enjoy a family hike on the weekend.  Stay healthy and active together!

Bring Back Breakfast
In the hustle and bustle of the early morning hours many families are skipping the most important meal of the day: Breakfast! Did you know that kids who eat breakfast have better attendance in school, improved test scores, superior nutrition and are less likely to be overweight? This is a meal not to be missed!  A balanced breakfast includes 3 of the 5 food groups: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy. Kids can fuel up and still catch the bus with these quick breakfast ideas:

• Old fashioned oatmeal topped with dried fruit and 1 cup milk
• Cheese toast, with low-fat cheddar and whole grain bread and apple slices
• Yogurt parfait- Layer yogurt with fruit and low-fat granola

Choose Snacks Cautiously
Children (and adults) are snacking more than ever! It is estimated that snacking between meals is the source of nearly 600 calories each day for children. As a nutrition professional, I am not opposed to kids snacking, but I am opposed to what many of them are snacking on. Healthy snacks shouldn’t be boring or bland, serve up these kid approved snack ideas and the whole family won’t miss the junky stuff.

• Snack kabobs: Skewer cubes of low fat cheese and grapes on pretzel sticks
• Homemade Fruit Smoothie (see recipe)
• Pita chips and hummus

Don’t lose sight of your resolutions purpose, this year just keep your family moving with exercise, breakfast, and smart snacks.

Frosty Pine Orange Yogurt Smoothie

Ingredients:
~ 12 ounces orange juice
~ ½ cup pineapple chunks, drained
~ 1 ¼ cups low fat vanilla yogurt (can use Greek yogurt)

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor.
Blend on high speed for 2-3 minutes or until frothy.  May add ice cubes for thicker texture.
Serve immediately.  Makes 2 servings.
Note: Freeze any leftover smoothie in popsicle molds for frozen treats anytime.

Laura Buxenbaum is a mom of two boys under the age of 6 and a registered dietitian with over 12 years experience in clinical dietetics and nutrition education. She holds a master’s degree in public health and nutrition from UNC- Chapel Hill.  She currently serves as the Senior Manager of Nutrition Affairs for the Southeast Dairy Association, where she is responsible for developing and conducting nutrition education programs for health professionals in North Carolina and Virginia. Laura also works closely with the media to provide research based nutrition information to the consumer through television, newspaper and online interviews.


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