Preparing our children for the months to come

By Kate - Fri, 20/03/2020

The COVID-19 situation we are all currently facing is one that is unprecedented and requires us all to come together and make prompt lifestyle changes. During this challenging time, extra measures need to be taken to protect the lives of our families and keep them safe. This article serves to educate on the importance of nutrition, making the right lifestyle choices, and best equipping our children to fight infection and stay healthy!

As we enter the Winter months, things are predicted to worsen before they get better. Winter always brings with it flu, coughs and colds. This year, we add to the mix Coronavirus. With increased health risks on the horizon, we need to make appropriate lifestyle changes to best prepare our health for what’s to come.

#1 – Sleep

Children need sleep! There is no doubt that children perform optimally and are at their happiest when they get adequate sleep. This means going to sleep at an appropriate hour, and keeping this hour consistent every night. According to the Health Sleep Foundation, children need anywhere between 9-13 hour of sleep per night1.

#2 – Activity

According to the Department of Health, children between the ages of 5 - 12 need at least 60 minutes and up to several hours of moderate - vigorous physical activity daily2. Activity promotes growth and development, strong bones and muscle, flexibility, maintenance of a healthy weight/BMI, boosts confidence and lowers stress. So too are there benefits to parents in our children expending their energy stores!

#3 - Nutrition

Nutrition is key to keeping us strong and healthy. Now, more than ever before, we need to ensure our children are receiving adequate nutrition to support their overall health and wellness. The impact that diet has on the minds and bodies of our children is something that The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating emphasises. So, the question is, as parents, how do we ensure that our children are getting the best nutritional value from what they eat?

As adults, we think we know how to provide nutritious meals for our children, but how often do we truly focus on the 5 food groups3 that make up The Food Plate when preparing meals? Healthy Kids, a government run initiative in NSW reinforces how important drawing upon all 5 food groups is when it comes to nutrition:

1.    Vegetable & legumes/beans

2.    Fruit

3.    Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties

4.    Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds

5.    Dairy (milk, yoghurt, cheese) 

Now that we have gone through what our children should be eating, let’s look at recommended healthy eating guidelines:

·   Plenty of plant foods; fruit, vegetables, bread and other grain-based foods.

·   Moderate amounts of animal foods (preferably lean and reduced fat); lean meat, reduced fat dairy products, chicken, fish and eggs.

·   Small amounts (sometimes or not at all) of fatty, high sugar foods; lollies, chocolate, soft drinks, cakes, sweet biscuits, pies, sausage rolls, sugary drinks.

Whilst getting your hands on healthy food staples can be challenging at present with food supplies being in high demand, it is imperative to take our children’s diets back to basics, limit the amount of processed food (known as discretionary foods) and fill their diets with nutrient-dense, fresh ingredients. Not only will this stand them in good stead for the challenging months to come, it will set a positive and healthy foundation for the future.

We all need to bolster our health right now, and we hope that the above information has provided you with some of the tools in fighting the good fight! For nutritional meal inspiration, go to the Super Healthy Kids website!

Good luck out there folks! Stay safe & stay positive!

1 https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/files/pdfs/Sleep-Needs-Across-Lifespan.pdf

2 https://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/resource/activity-tips-children

3 https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/australian-guide-healthy-eating