Pediatric Healthy Eating: Take Charge of Being Healthy!
As you get older, you are becoming more independent. Along with this freedom comes more awareness of your health. In order to stay healthy and feel active, you need to take charge of ways to improve your health. This handout offers tips on how to take charge of your nutrition and exercise plan to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Take Charge of Your Serving Sizes.
SUPER SIZE! GIANT! EXTRA LARGE! Portion sizes seem to get larger and larger. Just because restaurants offer larger portions, doesn’t mean your body needs the extra calories. Living a healthy lifestyle means watching the amounts of foods that you eat. All foods can be in the diet; you just have to know how to do it.
- Get a single scoop of ice cream instead of a large waffle cone.
- Choose a side salad or fruit instead of chips.
- Share your food with a friend or take half of it home when eating at a restaurant.
- Aim for a feeling of satisfaction after eating, not a feeling of sickness because you are so full from the meal.
- Fill half your plate with fruits and veggies and split the other half between high fiber carbohydrates (example: whole wheat bread, bagels, English muffins, pasta, crackers, oatmeal, brown rice, or sweet potatoes) and lean protein (example: eggs, low fat cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, milk, chicken, lean beef, pork, fish, bean, soy nuts, seeds, and nut butters).
- Make your serving of starches like pasta, rice, and potatoes no bigger than your fist.
Take Charge of Why You Are Eating?
The best way to maintain your weight is to eat when you are hungry. This may translate into eating 3 larger or 6 smaller meals a day. If you find you are eating out of boredom, stress, peer pressure, habit, or sadness, try these tips to get your mind off food.
- Go on a walk or take a bike ride.
- Read a book or magazine.
- Write in a journal.
- Go shopping.
- Work on a craft project.
- Dance to a favorite CD.
- Drink a glass of water.
Take Charge of Where You Are Eating.
Do you often eat in front of the TV, computer, or while doing homework? Eating while doing other actions makes it easy to lose track of the amount of food you eat and even that fact that you have eaten.
The best place to eat is at the table. This gives you a chance to take a break and pay attention to what you are eating. It also may help you eat more slowly. This way you will be able to tell when you are full.
If you do eat while doing other activities, take a single serving out of the bag or box and then put the rest away. That way you won’t eat a whole bag of chips without even noticing it.
Take Charge of When You Are Eating.
One more good way to keep your weight within a health range is to eat at regular times each day. Often, if you go more than 5 or 6 hours between meals, your body may become so hungry that no matter what you eat you don’t feel full. It’s better to eat regular meals and snacks as you get hungry. This removes the need to overeat at one meal. It also speeds up your metabolism.
One of the best ways to meet your daily nutrient needs and feel more energetic is to start the day with breakfast. By eating a meal in the morning, you’re refueling your body after an overnight fast and preventing overeating at lunchtime or after school. Some quick and fulfilling choices fore breakfast include:
- Yogurt topped with low fat granola.
- Fruit smoothie made with yogurt.
- Oatmeal with raisins and low fat milk.
- Bagel and peanut butter.
- Power Bar and fresh fruit.
- English muffin with egg and cheese.
Take Charge of Your Food Choices.
All foods, from fresh fruit to candy bars, are part of a healthy diet. The key is moderation, even with foods that are fat free. Being aware of the choices you make at mealtimes will make a big difference in maintaining a healthy weight. Consider the following tips:
- If you don’t like the low fat substitutes, use the regular kinds in smaller amounts.
- Trim fat from poultry, pork, and beef.
- Snack on fresh fruit, raw vegetables, and low fat dips, crackers and low fat cheese, yogurt, or a handful of nuts.
- Try to eat out no more than once or twice per week. Not only will this save calories but it wall also save money.
- Choose foods from several food groups when you have a meal or snack. Getting a little protein, carbohydrate, and fat will help keep you full longer than eating something that has just sugar.
- Limit high calorie foods to 1 or 2 servings. Instead of filling up on chips, have 1 serving with a turkey sandwich, fruit, and glass of milk.
- Drink water and other calorie-free drinks instead of juice and soda.
Take Charge of Your Exercise.
The key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is to get regular exercise each day. This doesn’t mean hours of intense activity 7 days a week. There are several easy ways to add exercise into your daily routine.
- Go walking or rollerblading with a friend.
- Join a sports team.
- Sign up for an aerobics or dance class.
- Run for 15 minutes before and after school.
- Earn money by mowing the grass or cleaning the house.
- Wash the car.
- Take the stairs whenever possible.
- Cut back on the amount of TV you watch. Walk around the house during commercials.
If you have specific questions about healthy eating and exercise, please contact:
2880 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53705
(608) 263-4360 appointments
UW Health West Clinic
451 Junction Road
Madison, WI 53717
(608) 262-9181 appointments
UW Health East Clinic
5249 East Terrace Drive
Madison, WI 53718
(608) 265-7405 appointments
American Family Children’s Hospital, 1675 Highland Ave, Madison, WI 53792
Pediatric Specialty Clinics - Nutrition (608) 890-8298 or
(608) 263-6420 Appointments
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 10/29/2012
Copyright © 10/29/2012 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#362
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