Rein in the sugar monsters
A child’s body can only process 24 grams of added sugar every day. When kids eat more than this amount, their bodies store the sugar as fat. Studies have shown conclusively that sugar consumption shrinks the brain—specifically the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for memory, asthma, and acne. It’s easier to eat 24 grams of sugar than you think: The average sports drink contains 34 grams of sugar! Especially when it comes to their teeth, it is best to limit consumption.
Pro tip: Make these simple replacements to help control sugar consumption:
- Instead of sports drinks, drink water with orange slices or coconut water.
- Instead of juice, drink water infused with strawberries and mint.
- Instead of granola bars, eat freshly cut-up fruit.
- Instead of cereal for breakfast, eat toast with nut butter.
Motivate kids to move
Sitting is as detrimental to our health as cigarette smoking. Unfortunately, we live in a sedentary society, and virtual learning has now transformed us into bigger couch potatoes.
Pro tip: Get a Fitbit for everyone in the house. Each child over five years old must earn 10,000 steps a day to earn the right to any non-school screen time for the following day. Parents must also earn 10,000 steps. (Set a good example!) Follow through with consequences. This is working like a charm in my house!
Focus on sleep
Lack of sleep increases our kids’ chances of catching colds, COVID-19, and the flu—not to mention the detrimental effects that lack of sleep has on memory focus and attention.
Pro tip: The biggest obstacle to a good night’s sleep is our electronic devices. Turn off all electronic devices one-to-two hours before bedtime. Children and adults should never ever sleep with phones in their rooms. Amazon still sells alarm clocks—all you need is a simple one (the fewer frills, the better).
Dr. Ana-Maria Temple, MD, is an integrative pediatrician, influencer, and TV personality. She has treated over 36,000 patients in her clinical career and is on a mission to transform 10,000 children’s lives in 12 months. Her book, The Rule of 5: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy Kids in an Unhealthy World, will be available for purchase on Amazon in November 2020.