In the second part of ‘Fit for the Future’ from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy we share some useful information on posture, diet and how your children can help you at home.
Children generally start off life with good posture. But over the years, bad habits can creep in, leaving children more vulnerable to back pain in later life.
For better posture:
> Encourage children to stand like a soldier, or a ballerina, with head up, shoulders back and tummy in.
> ‘One size fits all’ classroom furniture is not always ideal, but children can sit well by bringing their chair close to the table, sitting back in the seat with their back upright. They should avoid hunching over textbooks and be given the opportunity to move about during long lessons.
> Sturdy rucksacks are safer than ‘fashion’ bags. They should be packed and worn correctly. Heavier objects should be packed first and the bag should be worn properly using both shoulder straps and the waist belt.
A helping hand at home
Explain to your child that you’ll have more ‘fun’ time together if they help you out with chores.
> Teach your child how to make their bed and challenge them to do it more quickly every day.
> Put music on as you get ready for school or work and dance around together. Music can help get you in a good frame of mind for the day ahead!
> If you have a garden, give your child their own area or a couple of flower pots to look after.
Keep your child motivated by praising them for being active. If their confidence has been knocked by a difficult activity or sport, remind them that it’s the taking part that is important and ask them about other forms of exercise they’d like to try out.
The more active a child is, the higher their need for energy from food. A healthy diet for children is about balance and variety.
Fruit and vegetables:
All children should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. They contain minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, fibre, natural sugars for energy and water to help top up hydration levels. Go for variety and different colours to get a wider range of nutrients.
Bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods:
Include foods from this group in every meal for energy. Wholegrain varieties are best – they contain all the goodness of the grain and are a good source of minerals, vitamins and fibre.
Milk and dairy foods:
Children need two to three portions of milk and dairy foods such as yoghurt, fromage frais and cheese each day for strong bones and teeth. Low fat varieties have just as much calcium and protein.
Meat, fish, eggs, beans:
Include two to three portions a day for growth and repair. Choose lean meat and at least two portions of fish a week – fish is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals and is low in saturated fat.
Cut back fat and sugar swap:
Fat-rich foods such as butter, spreading fats, cooking oils and salad dressings should only be used in small amounts.
Choose lower fat alternatives when you can. Aim to have crisps, biscuits, fizzy drinks and sweets as occasional treats. There are many easy things you can do to help children to enjoy food and to have a healthy diet.
> Eating meals together as a family encourages children to enjoy a variety of foods
> Regular meals and healthy snacks help improve concentration, sleep and energy levels
> Get children involved in the kitchen. Let them help prepare and cook family meals and packed lunches
> Grow herbs or vegetables in pots or tubs. Try tomatoes, strawberries and cress.
Easy way to get 5-a-day
It is easier than you think to give kids five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Fresh, frozen, juiced, canned and dried all count. A portion is roughly a handful.
Make fruit kebabs
> Add sweetcorn to tuna
> Prepare a bowl of sliced fruit
> Try mashing vegetables with potatoes
> Offer unsweetened fruit juice at breakfast
> Add vegetables into sauces, stews and soups
> Chop vegetables into sticks and let children dip them into hummus.