Healthy and Happy

So we know some top tips to have a healthy lifestyle are to eat healthily, be active (move lots!) and sleep enough. But how do we do this?
To Diet or Not to Diet?
Nowadays “DIETS” seem to be everywhere – on TV and in magazine. It’s important to know that most of these diets do not work and what works for adults may not work for children and teenagers. Children and teenagers need a healthy, balanced diet in order to continue to grow to their full potential. Remember our organs and bones are still developing in our teenage years and our brains are still developing into our 20’s! Therefore it’s really important to give our bodies the best chance possible to develop to their best potential.

Diets that involve eating one food group more than another or that don’t include key vitamins and minerals can do damage to a growing teenager. In fact, many studies have found that teenagers who go on frequent diets may gain extra weight in the long term. 

For further information see.

1. Healthy eating:
* Don’t skip breakfast

* Spread your meals throughout the day. Aim to have breakfast, lunch, main meal plus 1-2 healthy snacks at regular times each day.

* Use the food pyramid to learn about the right foods to eat 

* Eat more fruit and vegetables (get your 5+ a day!)

* Watch the amount of food you eat (keep the amount of fatty and sugary foods to a minimum)

* Eat at a table and turn off all screens when eating

* Chew each mouthful of food 10 times (this gives your tummy a chance to tell your brain that you are getting full)

* Drink water every day or sugar free squash sometimes

* Eat at homemade food as much as possible (processed foods contain high amounts of fat, sugar and salt). If you do not know how to cook - start learning today

2. Be active (move lots!)
Every day, you need to do at least 60 minutes of physical activity that makes your heart beat faster and causes you to sweat. Why?

Well in order for your heart, lungs, bones, muscles and brain to develop properly they need to be used enough. Remember you heart is a muscle and it gets stronger the more you use it. When we exercise or move around our heart beats faster so that it can bring blood and energy to the moving parts of our bodies. By doing this it stays strong. If we don’t move enough, your heart gets weak. Sometimes when this happens our lungs get unfit too and we get breathless. Sometimes breathlessness can be scary and make us want to avoid exercise or active play.

By getting your 60 minutes each day you can:
* make new friends and have FUN

* boost your confidence

* Make your bones and muscles strong

* Make your heart and lungs fitter

* Make it easier to concentrate at school
Sometimes we find it hard to move enough or to be active.
* Maybe we feel like we don’t have time?

* Maybe we live too far to walk to school?

* Maybe we are lonely?

* Maybe we get tired after school?

* Maybe the weather is too wet to go outside?

* Maybe have too much homework?

Whatever the reason is, we can find ways of getting our 60 minutes of activity. We just need to be clever and think of ways to make it easier to be active like:
* Taking a dog for a walk

* Playing a team sport after school

* Having friends, a parent or family member who will get involved in sport or activities with you

* Listening to music that makes you want to dance

* Buying a rain jacket so that the rain can’t hurt you!

* Spending less time using screens so that you have time for active fun

* Trying lots of different activities so that you can find one that you enjoy
3. Sleep enough
Every living creature needs to sleep. Sleep is especially important for teenagers and children as it directly impacts mental and physical growth and development. The main benefit of sleep is the release of growth hormone which is needed by your body so that it can grow (toddlers can grow as much as 1.5cm overnight!).

As you grow up you will need to spend more time on homework and meeting with friends (online and offline). Some of the things we do as we get older can make it hard for us to sleep (e.g. using social media or watching TV close to bedtime). Remember that your parents are not punishing you if they send you to bed - they know that you need rest to grow taller, to concentrate and to be happy! If you do not get enough sleep it can be bad for your health and can cause problems like not being able to pay attention in school, being in a bad mood or putting on extra weight.

Teenagers should be getting between 9- 10 hours per night. If you tend to sleep late on the weekend, that’s a message from your body to tell you that you need to sleep more on school nights.  To help get to sleep many teenagers find it useful to turn their phone and other screens off one hour before bedtime. Many teenagers say that this can be difficult at first but that it makes a real different. They know that their texts and updates will be there in the morning so they won’t miss out but they value their rest. For those teenagers that are being teased or bullied, this is extra important as often they feel more in control when they just switch the device OFF!

I’m not a good sleeper: what can I do? See here for tips on sleeping better.