5-2-1-0: Help Your Kids have a Healthy Summer
By Dr. Lindsey Gerdes
Brought to you by Kaiser Permanente
Summer is not far away and with the warmer weather it usually means kids are out playing on the freshly-cut lawn, biking to the park, moving around and getting exercise. But more and more kids today are actually gaining weight during their time off from school.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates more than one in three children are overweight or obese, and these children gain weight two to three times faster during summer break than during the school year. This happens for many reasons including a lack of routine physical activity (recess), increased screen time, and increased snacking.
For parents, it can be difficult to get kids up and out during their spring and summer vacations especially with all the readily-available distractions of the internet, tablets, and video games. So, I want to provide you an easy way for kids to get active and healthy. It’s called 5-2-1-0 and it’s a simple way to incorporate healthy habits into daily life that it is not weight loss program or health plan. It’s just normal life.
Here’s what 5-2-1-0 stands for and some fun tips for trying it out:
5 servings of fruits and vegetables
I know, I know. It’s difficult to dress up food that’s good for you. But try making it fun for kids to eat like freezing green beans, grapes, or watermelon. You can even make homemade yogurt popsicles, grow a small garden, or visit your local farmer’s market to make healthy food more fun!
2 hours or less of screen time
This is a tough one because we have so many screens in our daily routines. It’s not all about limiting the screen time, though. Children are more likely to snack when watching TV and often times this leads to over-eating because they aren’t paying attention to how much they are eating. Try and reserve meals to be eaten at the table instead of in front of the TV. This helps strengthen family relations and makes eating more intentional.
1 hour of physical activity
Encourage your kids to get out and get active by getting active with them! Family walks, hikes and other activities such as showing them how to use hula hoops, jump ropes, and whatever else you can think of – the options are endless!
0 sweetened beverages
This is my favorite one! Spice up your bland water by adding slices of lemon, cucumber or orange. It’s a great, healthy way to flavor water without subjecting kids to all the sugar. Soda, even sports beverages, should be reserved for special occasions only.
Some children will be more difficult than others, and will require more effort and patience when trying to incorporate 5-2-1-0 into daily routines. It’s important to realize, however, that the habits your kids develop at a young age will remain with them long into adulthood.
It’s not just about focusing on weight. It’s about taking crucial steps like cutting out sugary drinks, snacking while in front of the TV and developing a fun way to exercise in order to help set your kids on the right path for a healthy lifestyle that will last into adulthood.
Try to set a good example, create fun, positive experiences around food and do anything else you can to keep exposing them, in a pleasant way, to healthy foods, more physical activity, and less screen time. Your persistence will pay off.
Lindsey Gerdes, DO, is a family medicine physician practicing at the Kaiser Permanente Greeley Medical Offices.
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