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Food and Nutrition

Children & Teens

In the United States, the percentage of overweight and obese children and teens is increasing at an alarming rate. Obese children and teens are at a greater risk for developing serious health conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, as well as high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol; which can lead to heart disease in adulthood. They may also experience low self-esteem due to teasing and bullying from their peers.

As parents you can help your child maintain a healthy weight. Lead by example. Prepare healthy meals for the entire family. Make an effort to prepare your family's favorite meals in a healthier way.

Your child's diet should include fruits, veggies, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free milk and dairy products, lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and beans. Limit your family's consumption of saturated fat and sugar. Encourage your child to drink plenty of water, and limit the amount of soda and sugar-sweetened beverages they consume.

Also make sure your child stays active by participating in at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity each day. Make physical activity fun. Enroll your child in a sport sponsored by your community park or in individual sporting activities, such as martial arts, tennis or golf.

Fostering good eating habits and encouraging physical activity early in your child's life helps promote lifelong health.

Adults

As with children, nutrition plays a vital role in helping adults maintain good health and reduce the risk for diseases. Poor nutrition can lead to a number of conditions and/or diseases such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and even some types of cancer.

A healthy balanced diet consists of the six basic food groups:

  • 3-6 ounces of grains (whole grain bread, cereal, rice, pasta, etc.)
  • 2 cups of fruits (fresh, frozen or canned)
  • 2 ½ cups of vegetables (dark green and orange vegetables are highly recommended)
  • Meat and beans (lean meats, beans, peas, nuts, etc.)
  • 3 cups of dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.)
  • Fats (most should come from the fish, beans and vegetable oils; limit solid fats like butter, shortening, etc.)

Drinking plenty of water is also important in maintaining a proper diet. Try to limit the intake of high-sugar beverages and fruit juices, as well as alcoholic beverages as they can quickly dehydrate your body.

Staying active is just as important as eating a well-balanced diet. Try to participate in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day. Also try to practice strength-building exercises, balance exercises and stretching exercises to maintain your ability to perform many daily functions like lifting children, tying shoes and looking over your shoulder to back up in your car.

Speak with your doctor about the level of exercise you should participate in. While almost anyone can exercise, certain factors like age and health conditions may affect how much you should exercise.