The New Year means new beginnings and is the perfect time to focus on healthier lifestyle habits for children. Parents often feel overwhelmed wondering where to start and what they should tackle first. 

To make it a little easier to help your kids reach their health goals in 2023, Dr. Susan Maples has 5 simple tips for all parents to follow. She is author of the book “Brave Parent: Raising Healthy, Happy Kids Against All Odds in Today’s World.” She’s also a health educator, speaker and one of the pioneers in the connection between oral and systemic health.

Dr. Maples’ 5 tips:

  1. Just say no to sugar: From dessert-like breakfast cereals to your kid’s favorite juice box, sugar is everywhere and it’s a killer. If there’s one thing parents need to remember it’s that there is nothing good about sugar. It leads to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and more. Do your kids a favor and nix the sugar. 
  1. Better food choices: When it comes to what’s on our kid’s plates, it’s mostly bad news. Start striving for more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Most families still eat meat and fish. If you do, try to ensure that they are also unprocessed and raised healthily and humanely. Seek drug-free, 100% organic grass-fed beef, free-range (cage free) poultry, and wild-caught (not farm-raised) smallmouth sh.
  1. Get active: Kids need to run around and get at least one-hour of physical activity each day. It’s great for cardiovascular health, burns calories, relieves stress, helps them sleep better and keeps them feeling well. Unfortunately, in this day and age, many of our kids have become glued to their electronic devices. Parents, encourage your kids to get outside and get active. 
  1. Catch plenty of Zzzzs: Most kids like a late night in front of the TV or chatting with their friends. On special occasions this is ok, but generally speaking, kids need more sleep than they are getting. Sleep is so important because it rests the brain and the body, restores energy, helps the brain retain information, and growth and repair occur. Ensure a cold and dark room, and cutout all electronics and other blue lights at least one hour before bedtime for optimal sleep. 
  1. Focus on mental health: It’s not easy being a kid these days and the state of our children’s mental health proves it. Anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions are unfortunately on the rise. Create a safe and soothing home environment for your kids. Talk to them and find out if anything is bothering them. Seek professional help when necessary. Poor mental health leads to poor physical health.