When it comes to making changes, every day is a chance to make healthy choices. By focusing on small steps at home, such as skipping sugary drinks or keeping fresh fruit for snacks, you can prevent a variety of health concerns while teaching children the importance of good nutrition.
El Paso County has not escaped the national obesity epidemic. Approximately four out of every 10 adults are overweight, two out of 10 adults are obese, and more than 28 percent of children are at an unhealthy weight. The trend toward overweight and obesity in our state and county has doubled in the past 15 years and is a contributing factor to the rise in diagnoses of type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension in both adults and children.
Try some of these tips from LiveWell Colorado that help families incorporate small steps toward keeping everyone healthy:
Drinks: While fruit juice is full of vitamins and flavor, it also packs a lot of calories and sugar even in small quantities. The next time you or your kids are having juice, fill the glass halfway with water or sparkling water and then finish with juice for a lower-calorie drink.
Snack without guilt: Buy your favorite fresh fruit and wash and slice some small portions. You’ll be more likely to grab ready-to-munch washed grapes, sliced strawberries and peach wedges when you’re hungry for a quick snack or on the go out the door.
Make a swap: Instead of regular peanut butter, choose natural peanut butter and try fresh fruit like sliced bananas and strawberries, instead of jelly with your peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Consider using olive oil instead of butter or margarine when cooking. Have mustard as a condiment instead of mayonnaise. Trade your full-fat and sugar-added yogurts for nonfat Greek-style yogurt. Have a small whole-grain bagel or whole wheat tortilla instead of white bread with your breakfast or lunch.
Cooking: Make dinnertime a no-screen zone. No video games, TVs, or cell phones. This way you enjoy your food, reduce “mindless eating” and reduce time spent staring at a screen.
Walking for exercise: Take a brisk walk with the family around your neighborhood. Just five city blocks will cover about one-half mile and burn around 100 calories. Or when your kids have a soccer game, take a few laps around the field while they play.
For more information, please visit www.elpasocountyhealth.org.