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Raising Fit Kids: Healthy Nurtition, Exercise, and Weight

It's not easy to make sure you're tending to all four areas of the FIT Platform -- FOOD, MOVE, MOOD, and RECHARGE -- at all times. For some people, their emotions, habits, and even biology can lead to an imbalance in eating and exercise habits. And today's families struggle to manage over-filled daily schedules. With work, school, and extracurricular activities, good health habits -- such as eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep -- take a back seat.

"Families are overcommitted," says Linda Bartholomay, LRD, manager of outpatient nutrition with Sanford Health, WebMD's FIT educational partner. "We have tons of scheduled activities and commitments. People race right out to pick up their kids, then stop for fast food on the way to the next activity. They may not make it home to have a meal together."

The Domino Effect of a Weak FIT Area

Unfortunately, when even a single FIT area -- FOOD, MOVE, MOOD, or RECHARGE -- is weak because you don't practice healthy habits, it can cause a downward slide that affects all other areas. Consider the cascading impact of this story.

Kid-sized stress. Sarah is under a lot of stress at school and at home. She has trouble with math, her best friend has been talking to someone else more, and her mom's been working extra hours. Overall she is in a down MOOD. Plus, for several days in a row, she has a hard time falling to sleep, and getting enough sleep is an important part of recharging. Sarah's sleeping troubles continue, several times a month.

Less sleep from a sad MOOD leads to a host of unhealthy choices. Because Sarah is getting less sleep and not fully being able to RECHARGE, she doesn't have the energy to MOVE and join her friends in their daily kickball game after school. Lack of sleep -- as well as losing her active outlet for reducing stress -- compound her stress. So she starts the habit of eating junk FOOD after school to help soothe her anxiety. Every day after school, she has a handful of cookies with a soda. At breakfast on school days, she often gets an extra slice of buttered toast and adds chocolate to her milk, too.

The impact of unhealthy choices starts to show. Poor sleep, unhealthy food choices, and lack of physical activity all lead to weight gain. In fact, Sarah's dad is overweight -- so she is already at an increased risk for having a lifetime weight problem. Within four months, she's gained 10 pounds, and it shows in a little pot belly that her mom thinks is cute. But the kids at school are less charmed by Sarah's excess weight, so she starts getting teased, and she feels bad about herself because of it. Ongoing lack of sleep and lack of exercise also work to bring down her MOOD and overall outlook.

 

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