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Young people and families directory

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Healthy Lifestyles

What you eat

It can be confusing to know how to plan healthy meals for you and your family. Obesity and heart disease are major problems in the UK today, because we eat too much saturated fat, salt and sugar in fast food and snacks, and not enough fresh fruit and vegetables. Balance is the key.

It's important to make sure your child eats a good variety of foods in sensible amounts. Ensure your children eat regular meals and make time to sit down to eat and to enjoy food together as a family. To get the best possible start to the day it is important that children have a good healthy breakfast. Encourage your children to drink water and milk rather that fizzy drinks and juice.

Exercise

Encourage your children to be as active as possible. The whole family can get involved with swimming, long walks, bike rides and kicking a ball around the park. Even walking to school counts as exercise. There are often after-school clubs where your child can take part in activities such as football or dance classes.

Sleep

As a parent you know that lack of sleep can affect your mood and ability to function at work or as a parent. The same is true of children. Recent studies have concluded that not having enough sleep as a child can impact on their behaviour and achievement at school. Establish a good bedtime routine and agree a set time for bed. Children are growing and use lots of energy so can need up to 12 hours sleep a night so make sure your children get a good night's sleep.

Smoking

The health problems associated with cigarettes such as cancer and heart disease are well known, which is why you and your family should stay smoke free. However if you smoke you should protect your child from secondhand smoke and reduce the risk of them becoming ill. Your Doctor can help you kick this damaging habit for good.

Teeth

Special care is needed for teeth. No one likes going to the Dentist, but it's much less unpleasant if you take your child for regular check-ups and help them look after their teeth in-between times. Children should not have too many sugary snacks and drinks, which can lead to tooth decay. Where possible use non-sugar alternatives and always make sure they brush their teeth regularly (twice a day) with a family fluoride toothpaste. If your child has problems with their teeth please ensure you take them to the dentist. This will help to prevent serious problems in the future.

Overall care

A healthy balanced lifestyle should help your child enjoy life to the full. If you have any questions or concerns about your family's health, use the contacts supplied on the opposite page to get the information you need.

Warning signs

An unhealthy diet can lead to health problems for all the family. Your child may not sleep well, be able to concentrate, feel less active and not have sufficient energy to live life to the full.

Action

Make sure they eat a healthy balanced diet. You can ask your Doctor for diet and exercise advice for a healthy lifestyle for you and your family. If you are a smoker get help to give up. Take your child to the Dentist regularly.

What to say

Explain to your children the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle. Suggest activities you can do as a family like cycling or swimming so you can get fit and have fun together.

Prevention

Balance is the key! Too much saturated fat, salt and sugar are bad for the body. Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep and exercise.

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