Everyone who knows me knows I am a total health nut. Taking care of myself has always been important to me. When my young cousin was recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, however, I realized that simply taking care of myself isn’t enough; I need to actively raise awareness in others who are not as health-conscious as they need to be.
As I conducted research to learn more about how to help my cousin, I realized just how serious this disease really is. According to St. Joseph’s Hospital Cardiac Center, if left untreated, diabetes can lead to more serious consequences down the road, including blindness, heart disease, stroke, and even amputation. This last November, I feverishly participated in American Diabetes Month, and now that the winter holidays have come and gone, I haven’t backed down one bit.
Many unhealthy temptations come along during the winter and early spring holidays (it’s cold out, so that means hot chocolate and lots of yummy “comfort foods,” right?!), and succumbing to them won’t help prevent Type 2 Diabetes. In fact, since Type 2 Diabetes is most often brought on from obesity, so the best way to prevent it is through regular exercise and a nutritious diet.
A Healthy Diet
There is hope to preventing this disease. While spending the entire season sitting on the couch drinking eggnog or hot chocolate and eating sugar cookies isn’t a wise idea, there are plenty of traditional treats and activities you and your kids can participate in while promoting a healthy lifestyle. One of my favorite goodies during the winter holidays is fresh citrus fruit. You and your kids can enjoy these for breakfast, as snacks or for dessert in place of high-calorie sweets. Kids especially tend to like clementines. These kid-sized, sweet oranges are simply power-packed with nutrients.
Also, with the cold weather, a great way to make warm foods that are both healthy and delicious is to find healthier versions of your favorite comfort foods. Here are some great recipes we have been making this winter season:
- low fat macaroni and cheese
- sweet potato hummus
- mashed potatoes made with nonfat Greek yogurt
- hot chicken salad
- fruit & yogurt parfaits
An Active Lifestyle
The New Year gives families a great opportunity to follow their resolutions and enjoy exercising together. Since kids will have various school breaks, they will have time off from school and studying to run off some extra energy by playing outdoors.
Those in cold climates can participate in seasonal activities such as sledding, snowball fights and building snowmen. If it doesn’t snow where you live, other outdoor activities can be enjoyed instead, such as swimming, hiking, relay races on the beach, or just good old fashioned dance competitions in the living room! Take the opportunity of having all the neighborhood kids out of school to organize games of kickball, capture the flag or kick the can. Parents can make these activities even more of a success by participating with their kids.
However you celebrate the winter and New Year season, do it this year with your children’s health in mind. Making these healthy life habits now will help to secure your child’s health and well-being for their future.