In most cases, it’s easier to prevent disease than to treat it later. This is why many doctors advise parents to think about heart disease sooner rather than later. But here’s the good news: adopting heart-healthy behaviors in childhood isn’t complicated. Focus on overall healthiness and well-being to set children up for heart health later in life.
Here are a few tips for establishing heart-healthy habits during childhood and adolescence.
How to Adopt Heart-Healthy Behaviors in Childhood
1. Start in Pregnancy
Heart health begins before birth. Try to eat well and exercise before and during pregnancy.
2. Focus on Healthy Foods
It can be difficult to know exactly what foods are healthy, but try not to overthink it. Offer kids a variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Avoid sugary drinks and excess sodium.
3. Get Moving
Children naturally move much more than adults. Encourage that movement through bike rides, playground visits, organized sports, or even dance parties at home!
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4. Be Mindful of Mental Health
Stress in childhood has been linked to cardiovascular problems later in life. Watch for physical signs of mental health issues, such as dizziness, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, chest pain, or similar symptoms. Talk to your child’s doctor if you notice any signs of anxiety or depression.
5. Do Your Best
Parenting is hard. If your kids eat junk food or watch TV all day, don’t beat yourself up. There’s always tomorrow! Do your best and try again.
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Source: American Heart Association, “What parents can do to protect kids from heart disease”