With the rampant availability of unhealthy meals, junk food, and sugary drinks that are cheap, convenient, and practically everywhere, teaching children about making healthy food choices is just another challenge for parents.
Nobody says it cannot be done but it will be hard and parents would need to be consistent.
There are two ways to go about it: Focusing on to their eating habits and getting them into sports.
Parents can create and serve healthy and balanced meals at home following the Healthy Eating Plate created by nutrition experts at the Harvard School of Public Health.
*Make ½ of your plate meal vegetables and fruits. Aim for color and variety.
*Make ¼ of your plate whole grains—whole wheat, barley, wheat berries, quinoa, oats, brown rice and foods made with them, such as whole wheat pasta
*Make ¼ of your plate protein. Fish, chicken, beans, and nuts are all healthy, versatile protein sources. They can be mixed into salads, and pair well with vegetables on a plate. Limit red meat, and avoid processed meats such as bacon and sausage.
*Skip sugary drinks and maximize on water. Do not buy your children those drinks that promise authentic fruit flavor. More often than not, it contains sugar and zero fruit.
All of these do not have to be expensive. Choose the right food. Real food.
Families on Saipan love dining out. If this is your source of family bonding time, no need to worry making unhealthy choices. Parents can choose to go to restaurants that serve healthy meals.
The CNMI Non-Communicable Disease Bureau of the Division of Public Health has introduced efforts to make healthy choice an easy choice for CNMI restaurant customers. The project is called REACH Biba program, where they encourage restaurants to make their menu healthier. There are currently several restaurants on Saipan that offer healthy plates on their menu and the number is growing.
Teach you child to love a sport by exposing them to a variety of activities like tennis, swimming, canoeing, football, volleyball and basketball, to name a few. This will help your child pick an activity that he/she likes and suits her physical level.
Watching sports on TV is a good introduction, but it gets even better when you watch the sport live.
Talk to them about what they like and dislike about each sport and look for signs of enthusiasm.
As a parent, you will need patience, time to explore sports, time to practice and teach skills, and time to support your child in his or her choice. (Bea Cabrera)