Mountain Parents: Remember 5-2-1-0 this summer

School’s out for summer! That’s the excited refrain many mountain kids are singing right now. No more homework, no waking up early; it’s all about fun. But what about exercise?  Mountain Parents: Remember 5-2-1-0 this summer.

During the school year, most children have hours in the school day dedicated to PE or time on the playground. Fewer hours of organized physical activity are available in the summer months, however, which places many children at risk for gaining weight.

We’ve gotten used to referring to Colorado as one of – if not the – healthiest state in the country. And while that may be true for Colorado adults, our kids are headed in the wrong direction. According to the Colorado Children’s Campaign 2016 Kids Count report, 27 percent of Colorado kids ages 2 to 14 were overweight or obese between 2010 and 2014.

That’s why it’s important to remember a simple phrase to help keep children healthy and active while they play this summer – 5-2-1-0.

5 Servings of Fruits and Vegetables a Day

Try to serve meals where fruits and vegetables make up half of your children’s plates.

Involve kids in meal planning by taking them with you to the grocery store. Ask them to pick out their favorites fruits and vegetables, based on color and texture, to bring home.

If your children don’t like the flavor of certain fruits and vegetables, add nutritious dips. Red peppers taste great with hummus and many kids enjoy ants on a log: raisins and peanut butter on celery sticks.

Presentation is key. Slice whole apples and oranges or divide them into sections. Use a cookie cutter to slice a cucumber or watermelon into fun shapes like hearts and diamonds. Instead of serving cherry tomatoes and broccoli, offer kids “moon squirters” and “mini trees.”  

Concealing vegetables in foods such as smoothies, soups, muffins and pasta sauces is another clever trick.

If you have picky eaters, don’t get discouraged. Continue to add variety and color to your children’s diets so they expect it at every meal.

2 Hours of Screen Time or Less a Day

Aim for limiting screen time to less than two hours a day for teens, less than an hour a day for children ages 2 through 12 and no screen time for kids under the age of 2. Set up a technology free zone during meals. That means no TV and cell phones and tablets should be placed away from the table.

When your children do have access to screen time, incorporate movement into the activity. Play Wii games together. Or use the music channels on your TV to have a family dance party.

1 or More Hours of Physical Activity a Day

Make physical activity part of your family’s daily life. Summer is a perfect time for that as the sun rises earlier and sets later.

Schedule family hikes after work two to three times a week. Lily-Pad Trail is a great, family-friendly trail near Frisco. Or go for bike rides on weekend afternoons.

0 Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Per Day

Push more water! Children need the same amount of water as adults, about one quart for every 1,000 calories burned.

While your kids may clamor for sugary drinks like juice, fruit punch, soda, sports drinks and flavored milk, it is best to avoid these.

One 10-ounce glass of orange juice contains 30 grams of sugar, the same amount as two ice cream cones. There are 20 grams of sugar in a 6-ounce glass of apple juice. In comparison, two glazed donuts have 22 grams of sugar. If you do need to give your children something sweet, offer fresh fruit instead of fruit juice.

Bring water bottles with you in the car or anytime your family hikes. Encourage water breaks. As temperatures rise, dehydration and heat exhaustion can occur quickly when the body loses too much water through perspiration.  


Patricia Dietzgen, D.O., is a family medicine physician practicing at the Kaiser Permanente Frisco medical offices

~MTN Town Magazine | We are Colorado’s Mountain Town Magazine

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