18 Feb 12 Ways to Keep Your Child’s Heart Strong and Healthy
Seeing as February is American Heart Month we decided to sit down with Dr. Ruben Rucoba and our Pediatric Registered Dietitian Marisa Persky to discuss what parents can do to promote healthy hearts in their kids.
- Offer whole-grain/high-fiber food items like bread, pasta, rice, and cereals rather than refined grain products- white starches. Look for “whole grain” as the first ingredient on the food label and make at least half your grain servings whole grain.
- Serve a variety of fruits and vegetables daily, while limiting juice intake to 4 oz per day or eliminate it completely and offer fruit instead. Each meal should contain at least 1 fruit or vegetable.
- Introduce and regularly serve fish as an entrée. Try out different recipes to see which one of your children are more open to eating. When first introducing fish to the diet, your children may be more interested if you start with fish like Tilapia, rather than the more potent ones.
- Serve fat-free and low-fat dairy foods, such as skim milk, low-fat yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, and pudding
- Avoid highly processed food items that have ingredients that you cannot pronounce or contain trans fat or a high content of saturated fat.
- Do not overfeed or encourage your child to finish their plate if they are reporting they are full.
- Make sure your child is remaining active for at least one hour a day. You can help accomplish this by assigning active chores (mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, etc.), exercising as a family, using stairs instead of elevators/escalators, and parking farther from stores when shopping to promote more walking.
- Limit screen time. This often leads to sedentary behavior and excessive snacking.
- Involve children in shopping and cooking. Teach them to read labels and how to prepare meals. This will help them avoid reliance on fast food later in life.
- Keep only healthy snacks in the house. Save the less healthy treats for special occasions!
- Get their cholesterol checked. Some thin, active children who exercise a lot can still have dangerous levels of cholesterol due to a genetic condition, and the only way to know is to test.
- Take antibiotics for strep throat as prescribed. The reason we treat strep is to prevent rheumatic fever, which can result in rheumatic heart disease. If your child has strep, don’t stop the medicine just because the sore throat feels better–take it as prescribed to protect the heart.
To schedule an appointment with Pediatric Registered Dietitian Marisa Persky, call 224-707-8893.