The goal of weeLiveFIT is to increase awareness of the early childhood obesity epidemic and offer solutions to put young children on a path to a healthy future. weeLiveFIT empowers families and caregivers to support healthy choices for children through both food choices and physical activity.
Click the Eat Smart tab below to learn about developing healthy food habits or the Move More tab to learn about ways to promote your child’s physical activities.
To help people make smart food choices, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has designed an easy to follow symbol: My Plate.
The plate graphic, with its different food groups is a reminder of what, and how much we should be putting on our plates to stay healthy.
The MyPlate graphic has sections of different sizes and colors representing each food group so you can see how much of these foods to eat- Green for veggies, red for fruits, orange for grains, purple for protein, and blue for dairy.
The graphic reminds us of a few important things:
- Choose variety: Balance items from different food groups
- Half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables
- Drink fat free or low fat milk (1%) and water instead of sodas
- Avoid oversized portions
Re-Think Your Drink
Healthy habits start early, and encouraging good nutrition and proper development extends throughout your child’s life. Starting your child on healthy beverages early will contribute to a lifetime of good health, so make water your drink of choice. Sodas, sweet tea and other sugary drinks taste great but are high in calories.
Use this interactive Sugar Calculator to figure out how much sugar you’re drinking.
Did you know it’s important to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables?
weeLiveFIT has now featured fruits and vegetables in every color of the rainbow. It’s important to eat all colors of fruits and vegetables since each color has different types of vitamins and nutrients. Learn more in this article “Eating the Rainbow for Good Nutrition”.
Here are some more tips from Fruits and Veggies More Matters for encouraging your family and young children to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day.
Raising a Fit Preschooler
Preschoolers have a lot of energy, which they use in a more organized way than when they were toddlers. Instead of just running around in the backyard, a preschooler has the physical skills and coordination to ride a tricycle or chase a butterfly. KidsHealth.org has provided great tips and information in helping preschoolers be fit and healthy.
Helping Kids Learn New Skills
Preschoolers develop important motor skills as they grow. New skills your preschooler might show off include hopping, jumping forward, catching a ball, doing a somersault, skipping, and balancing on one foot. Help your child practice these skills by playing and exercising together.
When you go for a walk, your preschooler may complain about being tired but most likely is just bored. A brisk walk can be dull for young kids, so try these tips to liven up your family stroll:
- Make your walk a scavenger hunt by giving your child something to find, like a red door, a cat, a flag, and something square.
- Sing songs or recite nursery rhymes while you walk.
- Mix walking with jumping, racing, hopping, and walking backwards.
- Make your walk together a mathematical experience as you emphasize numbers and counting: How many windows are on the garage door? What numbers are on the houses?
These kinds of activities are fun and also help to prepare kids for school.
How Much Activity Is Enough?
The National Association for Sports and Physical Education (NASPE) offers these recommendations for preschoolers, saying they should:
- accumulate at least 60 minutes of physical activity that’s structured (meaning it’s organized by you or another adult)
- engage in at least 1 hour — and up to several hours — of free play
- not be inactive for more that 1 hour at a time, unless they are sleeping
Limit time spent watching TV (including videos and DVDs), on the computer, and playing video games to no more than 1-2 hours per day.
Preschoolers are likely to get structured play at childcare or in preschool programs through games like “Duck, Duck, Goose” and “London Bridge.” Consider enrolling your child in a preschool tumbling or dance class.
Your preschooler can get structured outdoor play at home, too. Play together in the backyard or practice motor skills, such as throwing and catching a ball. Preschoolers also love trips to the playground.
Though many kids tend to gravitate toward the outdoors, lots of fun things can be organized indoors: a child-friendly obstacle course, a treasure hunt, or forts made out sheets and boxes or chairs. Designate a play area and clear the space of any breakables.
Here are some more ideas for structured play:
- play bounce catch
- use paper airplanes to practice throwing
- balance a beanbag while walking — make this more challenging by setting up a simple slalom course
- play freeze dance
- play wheelbarrow by holding your child’s legs while he or she walks forward on hands
Unstructured or free play is when kids are left more to their own devices — within a safe environment. During these times, they should be able to choose from a variety of physical activities, such as exploring, playing outside, or dancing around the kitchen.
It’s clear your preschooler is keeping an eye on how you spend your time, so set a good example by exercising regularly. Kids who pick up on this as something parents do will naturally want to do it, too.
No matter what type of physical activity your child gets, it’s important to keep safety concerns in mind. Remember that preschoolers are still developing coordination, balance, and judgment.
So as preschoolers play, a parent’s challenge is to find a balance between letting them try new things and keeping them safe and preventing injuries.
- A child on a tricycle or bike should always wear a helmet.
- If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to talk about street safety because even the most cautious preschooler may dart into the street after a ball.
- It’s a tricky age because kids want more independence, and should have some, but cannot be left unsupervised. Preschoolers still need their parents to set limits.
Giving kids safe opportunities to play in both organized and unstructured ways builds a foundation for a fit lifestyle that can carry them through life.
Click here for everyday tips and ideas to Move More from the National Institute of Health.