A new book from Weight Watchers called "Eat! Move! Play! A Parent's Guide for Raising Healthy, Happy Kids," looks at simple ways every family can get healthy.
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Read an excerpt of the book below, and then head to the "GMA" Library to find more good reads.
The Five Simple Rules
While the idea of maintaining a healthy weight often seems complicated, it really isn't. In essence, weight management is about balancing the calorie equation. When it comes to food calories, the goal is to focus on eating a lot of low-calorie, high-nutrient foods while reducing the number of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods. The calories out (or activity) side of the equation also has two factors: being physically active and reducing sedentary time.
These calorie cues are the foundation for the first four of the Weight Watchers Five Simple Rules; the fifth rule holds the key to the power that families have in creating a healthy-weight home.
Rule 1: Focus on wholesome, nutritious foods
A healthy-weight diet is one that emphasizes wholesome, nutritious foods. Most of these foods are high in vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients and low in calories. These foods must become the mainstay of a family's diet, including meals and snacks. Focusing on wholesome, nutritious foods not only enhances the achievement of a healthy weight but also promotes overall health and well-being.
Some basic pointers around this include:
Choose whole grains whenever possible.
Make water, other noncaloric beverages, and low-fat or nonfat milk the household drinks of choice.
Include plenty of fruits and vegetables each day.
Take in small amounts of healthy oils.
Be on the lookout for hidden fats and sugars in purchased and prepared foods.
Always eat breakfast.
Strive for regular meal and snack times whenever possible.
Have family meals as often as possible.
Rule 2: Include treats
Treats are foods that generally pack a lot of calories, are low in nutritional value, and rate highly when it comes to providing feelings of pleasure. Examples of treats include soft drinks, most desserts, candy, and highly processed packaged foods.
It's important to distinguish a treat from a snack. Children need snacks because their stomachs are too small to hold enough food to carry them from one meal to the next. A snack is a mini-meal that includes wholesome, nutritious foods.
Rule 3: Aim to limit screen time (excluding homework) to two hours or less per day
The AAP recommends limiting screen time for children older than 2 years of age to a maximum of two hours per day as a strategy to prevent overweight in children. (The AAP also recommends no screen time for children under the age of 2.)
Rule 4: Try to be active one hour or more per day
The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that children get an hour of physical activity daily. That is the same amount recommended for adults who want to maintain a weight loss. Most kids currently get about thirty minutes of activity a day, or about half of what they should. Experts agree that the current level of activity is not enough to prevent excess weight gain or lead to weight loss in children.
While an hour a day may sound like a lot, it helps to understand that the recommendation includes all kinds of activity, both structured and unstructured -- that means everything from playing outside after school to riding a bike to the store…. What is done to meet the activity recommendation is not nearly as whether the child enjoys it.
Rule 5: The rules apply to everyone in the home
A healthy-weight lifestyle isn't just for family members who have (or may have) weight issues. The Five Simple Rules work best if everyone in the family follows them, including those who are at a healthy weight.
In today's world, it is not just family members who care for our kids. If both parents work, meals and snacks are often provided by other people. Left on their own, caregivers may not know how to prepare meals and snacks that focus on wholesome foods. Likewise, caregivers may not understand the importance of getting kids to be active. In creating a healthy-weight home, the rules need to apply to everyone, including caregivers.
Reprinted from the book Weight Watchers® Eat! Move! Play! With permission from John Wiley & Sons