Despite more widespread access to health information than ever before, our nation’s health is much poorer than a generation ago. Children and adults live increasingly sedentary lifestyles, dominated by screens and disconnected from the outdoors and the natural world. Our collective diet has deteriorated drastically. We are home-cooking less, eating fewer vegetables and consuming much higher amounts of sugary, high-fat and processed foods. The effects of these lifestyle changes are everywhere to be seen. Rates of obesity are sky-rocketing, with the average adult nearly 20 pounds heavier than 20 years ago. The associated health problems of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, strokes and cancers are all increasing, as are mental-health problems such as depression, anxiety, not to mention a lack of energy and fitness for life. Most shocking are the increased rates of childhood obesity, placing the next generation on target for an epidemic of health problems at even higher rates than their parents have experienced. Parents often receive the lion’s share of the blame for the changed lifestyles of their children, when this is usually unfair and does not take into account the challenging environment we are now all living in.
Family life is much more rushed than ever before, with many working parents facing long hours and long commutes, meaning there is less time than ever for family activities and to prepare home-cooked meals. In addition, children and families are bombarded with advertising and pressure to eat unhealthy foods. Fast food is cleverly marketed to children and comes with the promise of a free toy (How can carrots or broccoli compete?). Even normal restaurants offer limited healthy choices to children and meals usually come in over-sized portions. In supermarkets, processed foods are often laced with sugar or other unhealthy ingredients and we are surrounded with special offers and promotions to get us to consume more and more. The social environment in which children are brought up is not much better. As a parent, you have be more vigilant than ever before to ensure your children have the best healthy start to their lives. You can’t let things drift, as your children will surely adopt the trends of increasing consumption of unhealthy food and increasing inactivity on screens.
It is imperative to take action so as to establish good healthy habits that can protect your children against the pressures they are under. The important thing is to question the consumerist society that surrounds us and to take a stand against it. While you can’t control the environment outside your home, you can take steps to change the environment within your home. The key is to make small steps and to build over time into good habits that make the difference in the long term. The new Start campaign supported by Safefood, the HSE and Healthy Ireland lists lots of simple and practical steps that any parents can make to improve their own and their children’s health and well-being. Over the coming weeks I will be writing a further five articles on overcoming the challenge of bringing up healthy and happy children. We will look at how you can establish good routines around mealtimes and healthy eating as well as the importance of good bedtime and sleep routines (which are so important to overall health). We will also look at how to manage the challenge of screentime and stop it dominating family life. Finally, we will look at at the importance of maintaining connected and warm family relationships which are the basis to good mental health and well-being for everyone. John Sharry is founder of the Parents Plus Charity and an adjunct professor at the UCD School of Psychology. He is a co-developer with Dr Adele Keating of the Parents Plus Healthy Families Programme.
- 1/4 cup shredded carrots
- Jumping rope
- Reduce Fever
- They Need Constant Reassurance
- Write it down. Schedule time to be active just as you would for any other important appointment
- Ditch the elevators and walk
- Have Ample Entertainment in the car
Guidelines recommend that all people aged 40 or older should have a routine cardiovascular risk assessment. A risk factor calculator is commonly used by doctors and nurses to assess the risk of you developing a cardiovascular disease such as heart attack, angina (chest pain), stroke or peripheral vascular disease. Treatment is recommended if you have a high risk. What are cardiovascular diseases or heart disease? Mayo Clinic describes them as a range of conditions that affect your heart. Diseases under the heart disease umbrella include blood vessel diseases, such as coronary artery disease; heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias); and heart defects you’re born with (congenital heart defects); among others. The term “heart disease” is often used interchangeably with the term “cardiovascular disease.” Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain or stroke. Other heart conditions, such as those that affect your heart’s muscle, valves or rhythm, also are considered forms of heart disease. Who should have their cardiovascular health risk assessed?
Adults of any age who have: early cardiovascular disease. For example, familial hypercholesterolaemia (high cholesterol) or familial combined hyperlipidemia (high levels of fat content in your blood). Here is a link for quick self-assessment from the Mayo Clinic. Here are ten tips to improve your cardiovascular heath: and some professions, attempt to get seven hours of sleep per night. Lack of sleep has shown to increase arterial calcium levels, which is an early indicator of heart disease. The higher the pressure, the harder your heart must work to circulate oxygen to your entire body. Unnoticed or untreated diabetes has proven to be very destructive to your heart. Sounds overwhelming, I know. A challenge for you. Keep a pen and paper handy and record all times that you are sitting while at home or work. Look at that number at the end of the day and then try to convince yourself that there “is not enough time in the day.” your body cleaner fuel to process. Cut back on soda and sugary foods and eat fruit, nuts and a big glass of water. Psychologists suggest knowing and obtaining that number frequently will assist you in fighting off the evening comfort snacking and other bad habits. None of them are good for you. Whether talking to a loved one more often or yoga or stretching or a walk/run or kayak/ canoe. Whatever it may be. A more regular routine of those things that make you happiest will assist you in creating a successful routine of personal health. It’s a slow-moving thing. Think progress, not perfection. Reward yourself in a healthy way. Ask your friends and family to join in and support you. On those super busy days when you get home and say, “I’m not walking today! ” A phone call from a friend/ family member/neighbor asking, “Are you ready for our walk” is a great way to instill these positive habits. Your heart will thank you!
Ill habits of smoking, alcohol: Whither youngsters going? Youngsters, be it a boy or a girl, has been rampantly found involved in the habit of smoking and drinking. There are some eating joints in the city which come up with various offers and youngsters are more in the list of beneficiaries, unfortunately. Of course, these so-called habitual youngsters do not pursue their habits only in these joints. Their area, too, has widened. One can notice them on roadside, in lanes of many parts of Civil Lines, Dhantoli, Tilak Nagar, Ram Nagar, Ambazari to name a few. One can imagine where the habits are taking them. These ill-habits have multiple dimensions. These habits are hazardous not only to health but also to the society. ‘The Hitavada’ has been writing on this issue to sensitise youngsters and their parents too. To know views and the suggestions so that this social evil would die, ‘The Hitavada’ talked to doctors, professionals, teachers, youngsters.