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The Importance of Good Health Habits

— State: North Dakota Education Department
Updated on Sep 30, 2009

It is difficult for a child to learn when he is falling asleep in class or is hungry. A young child needs about ten hours of sleep a night. Set a regular bedtime for your child and stick to it.

For the school-age child in particular, food means more than just energy. It provides the solid foundation for growth and development. Include foods from the four basic food groups each day; milk and milk products; meat, eggs, and fish; fruits and vegetables; and bread and cereals. Avoid feeding your child sweets and foods high in salt and preservative content.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for your child. In the classroom, studies show, that students are less able to perform well without the significant nutrients and calories that a healthy breakfast provides.

A nutritious breakfast can be fun and need not be time-consuming to prepare or to eat. Planning ahead is the key. A "sit-down" balanced breakfast including the four basic food groups is ideal. But if that is not feasible, some nutritious suggestions for a breakfast "on the go" include:

  • Dry cereal (not sugar-coated) and a can of juice
  • Peanut butter sandwich with a banana
  • Cheese sandwich with a package of raisins
  • Bran muffins
  • Individual cartons of milk and/or juice

Afternoon snacks that are nutritious, easily prepared and easy to eat include: air-popped popcorn, yogurt, fresh or dried fruit, low-fat milk, low-salt pretzels, all-juice frozen fruit bar and peanut butter and crackers.

Children need exercise just like adults. Encourage your child to go outside to play regularly in a safe or supervised area. Your child, with your doctor’s approval, should be doing an aerobic physical activity (running, bicycling, swimming, playing physically active games) for a minimum of a half an hour at least four times a week. Check with your child’s teacher to determine how much exercise he/she gets at school.

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