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Family Activities, Advertising and Screen Time

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Food advertising constantly surrounds us and our children, is very appealing and has powerful emotional associations, especially highly processed nutritionally low food items). Food can appear to be cheaper than unprocessed fruits and vegetables; however this is not always the case.

Be aware of “super foods, fad diets and trends” some may provide good nutrition, however for long-term health using the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating ensures good nutrition and is sustainable.

The last 100 years have seen a huge change in our living environment. The food Australians consumed 100 years ago is very different to what we eat today and what our children eat too. Changes include:

    • Increased product choice
    • Increase availability of foods from other cultures  
    • Technological advances in storing, preparation and processing

Tips for parents:

    • Discuss with your child appropriate to their age about what advertisers do.
    • Discuss with your child the importance of healthy eating.
    • Read food labels and beware of claims that food companies use to advertise their product, as they can be misleading.
    • Be aware of emotional strategies food companies use to influence you to buy their product.
    • Limit purchasing take-away/ snack foods as an occasional food, make sure that the particular food doesn’t become forbidden, as this may make the food “more wanted”.
    • Think about how you can create your own positive experiences with meal/ snack time with your children without take-away/ fast food present?
    • Set boundaries with your child before going shopping and reward with healthy activities, praise and encouragement.  

Physical Activity Guidelines

------ FamilyplayKeeping Active

Energy we use to fuel our bodies and our children is sourced from all food and drink consumed. This energy is in the form of kilojoules, which when digested, is broken down and released into the body as energy.

Energy is released is in accordance with its Glycaemic Index. If a food product is more close to its natural state and therefore less processed, as a general rule it will have a lower glycaemic Index and releases the energy at a constant rate over a period of time. Processed foods have a higher glycaemic index, which causes a quick increase in energy levels and then a quick drop. 

Physical activity and healthy eating are important to have a healthy lifestyle.  Considering how much you do and if you need to do more, is a good place to start. Find out what is near in your area using the Healthy Places, Healthy Spaces tool.

Tips for Parents

    • Foods that are more natural keep you fuller for longer, but are generally packed full of nutrients and lower in sugar, fat and salt.
    • Everyday activities allow your child opportunities to improve their fine motor skills, gross motor skills, movement and balance.
    • Activities that combine the above skills are extremely helpful in developing your child’s coordination and pre-fundamental skills e.g. mirroring someone’s image, or crossing their midline – right hand to left shoulder.
    • Exposing your child to these skills allows them to be more prepared for the first years of school. Think about all the skills your child needs to develop – such as tying their shoelace, holding a pencil and even learning how to walk.
    • Keeping active is important and will help develop strong muscles and bones in children.
    • Any activity that gets the whole body moving and heart rate up is great for children (and adults too!).
    • Look for existing opportunities to get active that are low-cost and you can fit into your everyday routine

Getting over the Barriers to exercise------ family exercise

Sometimes it can be difficult to overcome excuses to eating healthy or exercising. Common excuses include

    • I’m too unfit/ unwell/ tired: It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor to determine what is the best exercise for you
    • I don’t feel like it/ exercise is boring: Try exercising with a friend and think about activities that you enjoyed when you were a child. Instead of catching up for a coffee, get it to go and go for a walk instead. If you get bored exercising, try playing a social sport, or changing the venue you exercise in.
    • Make an appointment with yourself to exercise.
    • It’s too hot/cold/wet/windy: Play inside with your kids by playing a game of balloon volleyball, tenpin bowling in the hallway , dancing around the living room or making a couch cubby. On other days, can you venture out to your local shopping centre or join a community gym.
    • Switch screen-time for an activity or game that gets the body moving. Electronic games, tablets.
    • If you are making changes to the amount of exercise you are doing, start off small and then build on it. Remember some exercise, is better than none.
    • Start with small changes that you can make in your family. Remember, to set goals that are realistic and achievable, and then build on them.

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