Healthy Eating, Healthy Weights and Physical Activity

Eating healthy foods and being physically active every day are important for proper growth and development, as well as for having a healthy weight.

Habits developed during childhood will last a lifetime, so it is important to help children learn healthy habits right from the beginning. You can never start too early to keep your child at a healthy weight.

The best way to do this is by setting a good example for your child.

Be a good role model - eat healthy foods and be physically active every day!


Help your child develop healthy eating habits

You can help your child develop healthy eating habits.

Here are a few things you can do:

  • Involve your child in the planning and shopping for food.
  • Let your child help with the preparation of food (know your child's abilities).
  • Plan regular meals and snacks.
  • Serve a variety of foods from Canada's Food Guide.
  • Sit down and eat together (turn off the TV).
  • Let your child decide what and how much to eat from the choices you provide.
  • Serve healthy beverages at meal and snack times.
  • Limit 100% fruit juice to 125 ml (1/2 cup) per day.
  • Offer water for thirst between meals and snacks.
  • Enjoy more vegetables and fruit at meals and snacks.
  • Do not use food as a reward or punishment.
  • Make mealtimes pleasant - have everyone share something about their day.

For more information on healthy eating for your child, check the Youth Nutrition page.


Help your child be physically active

You can motivate your child to be physically active.

Here are a few things you can do:

  • Limit screen time (TV, computer, video games etc.).
    • No more than one hour per day for preschoolers.
    • No more than two hours per day for school age children and youth.
  • Encourage your child to go outside to play (you can go too!).
  • Play games with your child such as 'hide and seek'.
  • Go for a walk or hike together as a family.
  • Keep a box close by with a Frisbee, skipping rope and balls.
  • Go on a treasure hunt or scavenger hunt (make a list ahead of time for things to look for).
  • Have your child help with household chores (clean up toys, dust, rake leaves, work in the garden, shovel snow).
  • Build a snowman and make angels in the snow in winter.
  • Find a hill and go sledding or tobogganing in winter .
  • Put your favourite music on and dance together.
  • Use your imagination and create your own games and activities.

For more information, please go to Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour in the Early Years.


P.A.L.S. (Playground Activity Leaders)

P.A.L.S. is a playground leadership program. It encourages children to participate in playground activities at recess regardless of their gender, size or ability.

Both Waterloo Region school boards in partnership with Region of Waterloo Public Health offer the P.A.L.S. program. Trained school staff supervise the program at their schools with trained student leaders from grades 4 - 7. They are responsible for planning and leading fun and safe activities on the school playground at recess or nutrition breaks.

Schools who run the P.A.L.S. program have observed:

  • Increased physical activity in participating children
  • Decreased playground conflict and bullying
  • Increased leadership skills and self esteem in students through skill development in
    • Leadership
    • Communication
    • Problem solving
    • Organization
    • Cooperation

For more information, please email publichealth@regionofwaterloo.ca


Resources

Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide Provides guidance around the amount and types of foods to help you plan healthy meals and snacks for everyone in your family.  To order a food guide call the Region of Waterloo Resource Centre at 519-883-2256.

EatRight Ontario - Provides nutrition and healthy eating information and links to resources. You may call EatRight Ontario to talk to a Registered Dietitian for free at 1-877-510-5102.

Canada's Physical Activity Guidelines for Children Provides guidance around the amount and types of physical activity your children need to be healthy. To order an activity guide call the Region of Waterloo Resource Centre at 519-883-2256.

ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth - Provides information about how Canadian children and youth are doing in relation to physical activity and sedentary behaviour.

Health Canada - Physical Activity Tips for Youth - Government of Canada website that provides physical activity ideas and healthy eating information.

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