I feel fall in the air. Do you? Here in Alabama that means football! September is not only the start of football season, but it’s also National Childhood Awareness Month. Here in the southeast, we are known for two things: the greatest number of obese children – one out of every three – and the best college football teams in the nation. Not only are our kids supersized, but they are also undernourished in key vitamins and minerals like calcium, vitamin D and potassium. It’s time to get as passionate about getting healthier as we are about what’s happening on the gridiron. This September, families can tackle childhood obesity by following a playbook, just like a winning football team.
- Energize at the Training Table: Football players fuel up with high quality foods at mealtime for better performance. Families should view the dinner table the same way. Meals should pattern the new Dietary Guidelines and offer a wide variety of nutrient rich foods.
- Play the MVP: As a mealtime beverage, milk is considered the “Most Valuable Player” because it provides three of the four nutrients children are lacking- calcium, potassium and vitamin D.
- Punt High Calorie Beverages: Did you know that sodas and sports drinks are the biggest source of added sugars and calories in a teen’s diet? A new clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends eliminating sports and energy drinks for children. Instead offer low-fat milk including flavored milk at mealtime and after strenuous exercise.
- Try Two-A Days: Children need 60 minutes of play every day. If this is too difficult, follow two-a-days and break exercise sessions into 30 minutes each. Pick activities the entire family enjoys like hiking, jumping rope, walking or biking.
Mary Martin Nordness, MA, RD, LD, CHES