The following are two of the Chesprocott’s Healthy Communities Coalition Health Tips, being offered by the Health District on a weekly basis throughout 2018:
In the past 30 years, the rate of childhood obesity has increased. Now, about 17 percent of American children ages 2 to 19—one in six kids—are obese.
Because children are heavier today, they are developing health problems that used to be found only in adults. Research suggests that obese children are at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other health issues. Once rare in children, Type 2 diabetes now accounts for a high percentage of all new diabetes cases in kids.
The best way to help your children avoid obesity or lose weight is to be a good role model. To help your child(ren) get and stay healthy:
- Limit how much time they spend in front of a TV or other screen to less than two hours a day.
- Plan an hour of physical activity into your child’s day and do it with them. You can break it up into smaller amounts of time that add up to 60 minutes.
- Shop, cook and plan for healthy meals. Buy healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grain bread. Replace sugary drinks with water or low-fat milk. Ask your child to help plan a healthy meal for the family. This is a good opportunity to talk about healthy food choices
- Start with a healthy breakfast. Instead of sugary cereals or pastry, serve whole grain cereal with low-fat milk and protein, oatmeal or whole grain toast with fruit.
Many of us are trying to get more fruits and veggies into our diet. Want to make it easier? Try planting your own.
It can be a garden in your yard, or raised beds or pots on your patio. Home gardens provide instant access to fresh produce, saves both time and money, and provides enjoyment. If you don’t have room at your house, get your neighbors involved or join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program.
Community gardens are a great way to grow healthy food and bring people together. They can be set up on empty lots or in parks and schools.
Another benefit to having your own garden or a shared one is being able to keep everything pesticide-free. Some flowers and herbs even act as natural pest controls. You can also pick the produce as soon as it is ripe, which has more nutrients when consumed after picking. Gardening can be relaxing and help with other mental health issues, so have fun, enjoy the “fruits” of your labor and plant safely.
How to start an edible garden? Here are some helpful tips:
- Start small—begin with one raised bed.
- Plan your garden—learn your space.
- No backyard?—use a patio/deck.
- Get proper soil—typically compost-rich and organic.
- Choose easy-to-grow crops—leeks, broccoli, or watermelons.
- Decide between plant seeds or seedlings.
- Buy some garden tools—trowel, pruner, or weeder.
- Stay on top of weeding—pull them while they are small.
- Label your crops
- Keep an open mind.
When you’ve done that, you’re ready to build your own mini-garden meadow. To start, you’ll need a spare patch of the garden (an area that hasn’t been fertilizd); a packet of meadow flower seeds; handfuls of sand; shears; and twiggy branches.
First, remove grass, weeds and the top layer of the soil, then lightly rake the area.
Second, mix the wildflower seeds with a handful of sand (this will help you see where you are sowing.
Third, sprinkle your seed mix in the spring or autumn.
Fourth, walk over the soil to matt it down, then water lightly.
Finally, arrange branches over your seeds to keep animals out.
It’s important to remember not to take seeds from the wild. Always buy specially-grown seeds, and apply five grams of seed per meter of soil.
Cornfield annuals will flower in the first year while perennial meadows often need two years in which to grow.