According to the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR), approximately 1 in every 3 cancers is preventable with good eating habits, more physical activity, and maintaining a healthy weight. Learning healthy habits at home from a young age helps our children grow up to be healthy adults.
Physical activity and exercise reduce cancer risk by improving hormone levels, keeping your immune system strong, and helping with weight control. The American Cancer Society recommends at least 60 minutes of active play every day for our kids. Eating more vegetables, fruit and whole grains gives your body a wide variety of important nutrients that promote health. Limit sugary foods and beverages, and decrease use of processed meats like bacon, sausage, lunch meats and hot dogs to improve your health and decrease risk of cancer.
Our children learn from watching adults, especially parents. When we include fruits and vegetables at meals, plant a garden, or visit the farmer's market regularly our kids learn to enjoy eating healthy foods. When we make time for the gym, go for a family hike, or practice catching a ball in the backyard with our kids they learn the importance and fun in staying physically active. When we drink plain water instead of sugar-filled soda, grab an apple for a snack instead of cookies, or gather the family together for meals our children grow up with these healthy habits as part of their everyday life.
The AICR's Healthy Kids Today, Prevent Cancer Tomorrow campaign asks both parents and children to take a pledge to commit themselves to healthier habits by completing monthly activities together. The Cancer Prevention Pledge can be found at http://www.aicr.org/healthykids/#pledge AICR provides a variety of information and activities to help families choose healthy foods and enjoy physical activity, including:
Quick and simple ideas for nutritious meals and snacks
Child-friendly recipes to encourage your kids to learn to cook healthy foods
Fun games and activities the entire family will enjoy
Ideas for non-food rewards
When each of us commits to gradually changing our food choices and activity level, we'll make our entire community healthier.
Lynn Grieger, RD, CDE, cPT is a health, food and fitness coach in Manchester and online at www.LynnGrieger.com. She thanks her grandparents for hours spent in their gardens learning to grow, pick, freeze, can, cook and enjoy vegetables.