Why waste time and energy on making New Year’s resolutions that might
result in undefined or unrealistic goals that may or may not last two weeks?
Instead, consider making “All Year” resolutions with your entire family that
are inspired by the science behind healthy living.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020 focuses on preventing
chronic diseases caused by unhealthy eating and growth patterns. (See the
Lurie Children’s Blog about how these guidelines can help your family:
http://blog.luriechildrens.org/2016/03/ten-easy- ways-improve- health/).
By adapting healthier eating and physical activity habits you can promote
health and reduce your risk for chronic disease. Unhealthy eating patterns,
such as disorganized meals/snacks or unhealthy food choices, have
contributed to the rising rates of childhood obesity. Even in children, obesity
increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, high blood
pressure, or diabetes. Suggestions for healthier snacking include limiting
sugars in foods and beverages and choosing more nutrient dense* foods.
Public Health England (PHE) recently published specific recommendations
for helping families make healthy snack food choices. Britain’s population is
seeing a rise in childhood obesity, with 1 in 3 British children being
overweight by the time they leave elementary school. Studies show with the
fast-paced lifestyles of today, people are more likely to graze throughout the
day than to have scheduled meals and snacks. As a result, easily accessible
snacks such as chips, candy and cookies often make it to the plate before
fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This “grazing culture” may result in
children consuming 30% of their daily calories from snacks and 50% of their
daily sugar intake.
The PHE developed the Change4Life Campaign to provide snacking
guidelines. Snacks should be limited to 100 calories each with a maximum of
2 snacks/day. In particular four to six year olds should have no make than
five cubes** of sugar per day and seven to ten year olds should have no more
than six cubes per day. This recommendation is comparable to the American
Heart Association’s recommendation that children between the ages of two
to eighteen years should limit added sugars to six teaspoons/day (25 grams)
The American Academy of Pediatrics also focuses on the importance of
making healthy snack choices and limiting sugar:
1. Use snack time to increase fruit and vegetable intake. Pair them up with
low-fat dairy products (yogurt, cottage cheese), lean proteins (nut butters)
and healthy grains (at least 3 grams of fiber/serving)
2. Be at the ready! Keep healthy and convenient food choices stocked up at
home (hummus, chopped and ready fruits and vegetables, cheese sticks, hard
boiled eggs, whole grain bread/crackers)
3. Avoid/limit processed foods and added sugars (things in bags and boxes!)
4. Encourage your children (and yourself) to eat a “rainbow” of colors. Enjoy a
local farmer’s market with your family and talk to farmers about where the
food comes from and how they grow it.
Simple changes in food choices and patterns can make a big impact on the
overall health of your family. Include your children in discussing why, how,
and when to make these healthy snack choices. Gather your family and make
a SnackBook to have on hand for fun and healthy cooking projects. Make a big
batch of healthy granola or trail mix that is easy to grab for the whole week!
Note: The Northwestern Children’s Practice “family” (our doctors, nurses,
receptionists, medical students and patients!) has been contributing to our
ongoing NWCP SnackBook of family-friendly and healthy-ish recipes.
Please send us your favorite family recipes to include in our collection. Email your
recipes to firstname.lastname@example.org . Include the word SnackBook in your
Check out the NWCP SnackBook on our Share the Health blog on our
*Nutrient dense foods: Food and beverages that provide healthy nutrient
intake to promote positive health effects, ideally from naturally occurring
ingredients, and without added sugars
** a cube of sugar is equivalent to 4 grams (3/4 tsp)
The Physical Toll of Obesity.
conditions/obesity/Pages/The-Physical-Toll-of-Obesity.aspx , December 12, 2017
Snack attack: children should only be allowed two tiny treats daily,
PHE launches Change4Life campaign around children’s snacking.
Added sugars and cardiovascular disease risk in children.
Choosing healthy snacks for kids. healthychildren.org/