You can take control of your child’s heart health by developing habits now  that will reap benefits later in life.

The best and the most effective way to do this is by making healthy living a priority for the entire family. Its no rocket science, a child learns from his surrounding, other family members and more important parents.

Children are  likely to adopt the lifestyle similar to what is around them as they grow older. If you want to raise a healthy child, you have to take the first step to be that healthy parent.

We have listed down ways that can help you raise a heart-healthy child ahead of World Heart Day, 29th September.

  • Exercise: This is a constant reminder to all parents, exercise. We are not asking you to hit the gym or join yoga classes or individual activities for weight loss in this article. Exercise as a family; ride bikes, take long walks, go swimming, play games outside. Make it a family workout.
  • Limit screen-time: Excessive screen-time leads to a sedentary lifestyle and constant snacking. This increases the rise for obesity and cardiovascular diseases. Limit television, computers, phone time to one – two hours a day.
  • Go grocery-shopping together: Learn more about reading nutrition labels and make it a fun-knowledge base activity for your child. Avoid processed food and stock your kitchen with 100% wheat or grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts.
  • Make dinner a family affair: Involve your child in cooking and planning meals. Show them what ingredients go into making a dish, educate them about the health benefits. Let them take the step to plan healthy meals for the entire family. This also gives them a sense of responsibility and makes them feel an important member of the family.
  • Check salt in-take: Having a high in-take salt diet can increase your blood pressure too. This can results in increase risks of suffering from heart disease or stroke. Avoid using any salt on the table and reduce the level of salt in cooking.
  • Get enough sleep: Make sure your child gets at-least 10 hours of night sleep and a quick 2 – 3 hours power nap in the afternoon. Sleep is an essential part of keeping your heart healthy. Lack of sleep increase the chances of cardiovascular diseases irrespective of the age.
  • Minimize sugar: We all can’t help with the very fact that every child has a sweet tooth. Its not that easy to break the habit. Replace fruits with yogurt instead of cakes or puddings. Excessive sugar in-take can lead to weight gain which again increases blood pressure and leads to diabetes and other heart diseases.

As a parent, you will have to take small steps and gradual changes can make a big difference in your child’s health over time.

Be realistic and set goals and limits which can be achieved. So start small and eventually build up.

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    The CATCH Global Foundation is a 501(c)3 public charity founded in 2014. Our mission is to improve children’s health worldwide by developing, disseminating and sustaining the CATCH platform in collaboration with researchers at UTHealth and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The foundation links underserved schools and communities to the resources necessary to create and sustain healthy change for future generations. The founding partners of the CATCH Global Foundation are MD Anderson Cancer Center, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, the RGK Foundation and UTHealth.