I was pleased when freelance writer, Helen Pox, and I chatted about keeping kids healthy during the long, cold winter months. Indoors, they breathe recycled germs and often fail to receive the necessary amount of the sunshine vitamin D, which maintains immunity.
Helen is a fitness instructor and a nutritionist. With her qualifications, I was happy when she agreed to pen a post on keeping us and our kids healthy. If you enjoy her words of wisdom, and practical tips, leave her a comment below.
In the cold winter months it is easy to let our diet and fitness regime slack a little. Dark, snowy evenings don't exactly encourage an after dinner jog, and as soon as the cold temperatures creep in we find ourselves craving comforting carbohydrates as a way to keep bulk up and keep warm. The combination of the two can see us putting on weight (one study suggests the average American will put on a whopping 5 lbs during the Christmas holidays alone!) and letting our general health fall into decline means getting back to normal in the Spring can feel like a real slog. It's important to maintain some sort of health and fitness regime over the winter months. and to enlist the whole family.
Kids especially need a nutritious diet and regular exercise to aid their development and avoid falling into the ever-increasing child obesity statistics.
Here are four ways to encourage the family to stay healthy this winter.
The kids might be telling you that that they're craving creamy pasta dishes, sticky chocolate cake, sugary drinks and french fries but too much fat and sugar will take it's toll on their waist line and play havoc with their blood sugar levels. During winter our bodies work harder and they need slow energy releasing foods -- including whole grains and starchy vegetables to stop us them from running on empty.
Make the most of winter produce such as squashes, pumpkins, root vegetables and onions by making a winter casserole, apt to fill them up and packed with healthy vegetables too. Or consider adding Asian spice to your meals to give that warming feel without the high fat content. Of course during Christmas and Thanksgiving the whole family is likely to over-indulge but consider using healthier alternatives such as low fat or gluten free ingredients in your cooking to help with weight control. Nobody wants to go into the new year with a big bulge.
Winter and exercise may not seem to naturally go hand in hand but in fact there are a range of winter sports that the kids could really enjoy. Skiing, snowboarding and ice skating could be great new skills to learn and even hauling a sledge through fresh snow can get blood racing, endorphins pumping and calories burning. The key is not to sink into a 'staying-home' routine. Don't let the cold put you off, wrap up and get outdoors.Look into activities your local sports center offers during winter.
- gymnastics or
- rock climbing?
This could be a new hobby for them to take into the new year. And if you really are struggling to get out and about then consider buying a fitness console for a gift. With a variety of competitive fitness games and training programs, the whole family can stay fit without even leaving the house.
Build the immune system
During these winter months, cold, flu, and winter bugs are rife in schools. Give your kids the best chance of avoiding these by maintaining a strong immune system.
Good diet and regular exercise can assist with this but for an extra boost try encouraging them to eat citrus fruits, which are packed with vitamins and antioxidants that strengthen their natural defenses. Winter could be a good time to introduce supplements such as omega-3 fish oil tablets to help reduce inflammations and fight toxin attack and Vitamin A which helps aid growth and repair.
Dehydration isn't exclusive to hot weather.
In winter we can still lose fluid from sweat, vapors, and because we tend to produce more urine in cold temperatures. Ensure your kids are getting enough to drink otherwise they could end up fatigued, grumpy and lacking in concentration. Dehydration also slows down the body's process of breaking down and metabolizing fat, which means it could go against your weight control strategy. Encourage them to drink plenty of water (which can also be taken via broths and fruits) but avoid fizzy drinks packed with caffeine and sugar which will once again send those blood sugar levels sky high only to crash and burn within an hour or so.
(C)Copyright, 2015. Helen Cox.