5-2-1-0 A Healthier Way to Live

If you can remember this simple sequence of four numbers—5-2-1-0—you will have the basic guidelines to a healthier lifestyle on hand at all times. While this program was devised for children, it can be utilized by all family members. In fact, your kids will be more compliant if you adopt the changes along with them. Example can be a powerful tool. Why not suggest that the entire family go for a walk or bike ride; Work together in the garden; or play some back yard sports together. The children benefit from your example and you will all benefit from the healthier foods and activities.

Your child’s good health begins with you. See how many creative but simple ways you can incorporate 5-2-1-0 into your family’s daily life. Simple solutions are usually the ones that are remembered and used. You want to promote healthier snacks, so stock the refrigerator not the cupboards. Fresh fruits like apples, grapes, bananas and pears require little preparation and should trump cookies and chips. Kids who don’t like cooked vegetables might snack on them raw served with a healthy homemade dip. Mix 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt with ½ cup reduced fat mayonnaise. Then add dill weed, some onion flakes and other seasonings, or come up with your own recipe that is low in salt and fat. Find additional ideas on the Internet.

Remember portion control.  It is one of the most important eating habits for kids to acquire and yet it is often overlooked.

Whenever possible and reasonable, give kids some choices at the grocery store and in meal planning. Including them in the process helps ensure their cooperation.

Will this require commitment on your part? Yes, it will. Learning to shop smart, and use simple recipes can help though.

Provide options that will replace screen time, like family game night using board games; reading time; or even discussing each other’s day. Do you have a hobby that you might like to share with your child, or vice versa? Make switching off the television, computer and game devices a positive, not a punitive action.

Adults don’t make changes readily and neither do kids. Start slowly and introduce changes bit by bit.  We are not suggesting that this will always be smooth and easy and readily accepted by all children and teens.  Your family might not hit the target completely, week after week, but the goal of raising healthier, fitter children is worth the effort.  Helping your children establish healthy life habits now will provide them with the tools they’ll need to be healthy adults.