Eating family-style meals and snacks is recognized as a best practice in child care settings of all types—large or small centers, in-home providers, preschools, or church child cares. Family style is all about children and supervising adults sharing a meal together, with children encouraged to serve food themselves.
A mountain of research suggests that healthy nutrition radically improves children’s cognitive function and measurable academic achievement.
We know that:
- Specific vitamins and minerals that our body obtains from nutrient-rich foods play a critical role in brain growth, development and learning.
- Staying hydrated is important—a drop of just 1-2% in body fluid can cause difficulty with math problems, slower processing, impaired short-term memory, and trouble focusing on a page of text or computer screen.
- Obese children show less brain activity, especially in the frontal cortex which is associated with attention, short-term memory tasks, planning and motivation.
Central Indiana is forecast to get more snow this weekend - possibly a lot of snow. Some weather forecasters and predicting up to 10 inches! And then the temperature is predicted to plummet, making for a blizzard-like, bitter cold few days. Naturally, staying safe is the most important thing to prepare for in extreme winter weather, but we at Jump IN also want to be sure you have some good resources for getting some fun, physical activity as well - indoors or out.
5-2-1-0 is an easy-to-understand concept created by Let’s Go! Maine to help parents, children, educators, childcare providers, and others remember four important healthy living recommendations. The idea is to encourage kids and adults to incorporate these simple steps into their lives every day: 5 fruits and vegetables, 2 hours or less of screen time, 1 hour of physical activity, and zero sugar-sweetened beverages. With the help of a CDC-backed study, Maine proved that consistent exposure to the simple 5-2-1-0 message not only increased awareness of the specific daily recommendations but also improved families’ performance on at least two of the four daily goals. Along with health advocates across the country, Jump IN for Healthy Kids has incorporated the 5-2-1-0 message into our ongoing public awareness efforts and aids in incorporating the message into existing programs such as youth serving organizations and schools.
When Jump IN was stood up as an organization in 2014, it was given the task of reducing childhood overweight and obesity in central Indiana from 43% to 38% over ten years, by 2025. If nothing is done to address this growing public health crisis, research tells us that by 2025, the rate will grow to 53% - that's more than every other kid. How do we do it? By creating healthy places, healthy neighborhoods and healthy communities where kids and families can make healthy choices easily and affordably. We integrate proven best practices into schools, child cares, and workplaces. We address healthy food access, the built environments, clinician engagement, and policies that influence access to healthy choices. We collect data to rigorously document our impact. And we take the 5-2-1-0 concept into youth-serving organizations to include in their programming and share the message with the public. The process of moving that 43% in a sustainable, meaningful way takes a long time. Integrating best practices is our focus and we have a lot to share.
It's that time of year when we make our resolutions for the new year: save more money, volunteer more, practice gratitude, and everyone's perennial favorite: get healthier. This year, make the commitment to to adopt 5-2-1-0 into your days. It's simple, it's easy to remember, and your whole family can get on board.
It's possible to celebrate Christmas, New Year's Eve, or any holiday—without going overboard on sweet treats and calorie-laden food and beverages. Here are a few simple strategies to help support you in eating healthy at your holiday celebrations.
When we introduce people to the 5-2-1-0 concept, a refrain we often hear is, "Oh, wow, only two hours of screen time? That sounds really hard." Of the four steps in the simple 5-2-1-0 formula to practice four habits every day, screen time tends to jump out at people as the toughest to manage everyday.
We get it. Sometimes it feels as if screens have taken over our lives. We use them to communicate, to play, to entertain, and to watch while we relax and unwind. And that time can really add up. Parents ask us, "does 'screen time' include TV time?" It does. Screen time means time on a laptop, in front of a TV, on a tablet or on the smartphone. From the CDC website: "According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids ages 8-18 now spend, on average, a whopping 7.5 hours in front of a screen for entertainment each day, 4.5 of which are spent watching TV. Over a year, that adds up to 114 full days watching a screen for fun. That’s just the time they spend in front of a screen for entertainment. It doesn’t include the time they spend on the computer at school for educational purposes or at home for homework." The big problem? Screen time is often time away from playing, running, hiking, and getting other forms of physical activity. But there are steps you can take as a family to ensure that screens don't rule your household and tools you can use to ensure you get plenty of physical activity, no matter the weather or time of year.
- Winter can make it hard to get enough physical activity time outdoors - it's cold, it gets dark early, and sometimes it's just too icy to be safe. One tool that can help schools and families get physical activity indoors is GoNoodle. There is a fee for schools to subscribe to it, but the app for families to use is free. You can find fun, silly, high impact, and even educational activities and "brain break" exercises and dances that are fun for all ages.
- Sometimes you just need some suggestions about what to do. Go here for a monthly activity calendar to give you a fun physical activity recommendation every day of the year.
- Of course, with screens, time can get away from you. One way to ensure 30 minutes of screen time doesn't turn into 60: set a timer. When the timer goes off, walk around the neighborhood or do a couple of GoNoodle videos.
- Limit screen time to certain times of day and incorporate those into your family's schedule so that your screen time is deliberate and not a runaway activity that can fill up too much time unintentionally.
- Finally, ban screens during meals. Not only do screens interfere with conversation and the important social aspects of sharing meals, screens can distract you from paying attention to your body. If you're distracted, it's harder to pay attention to when you're full, and you can risk overeating.
Subscribe for More
Want more ideas for healthy schools, workplaces, child care providers, and families? Subscribe to our blog for weekly tips delivered right to your inbox!
Thanks to the Indianapolis Colts, Jump IN for Healthy kids works with school districts in central Indiana to integrate school wellness policies that create healthier environments for children. The new two-year program, Jump Right UP, has just launched in four districts: MSD Pike, MSD Warren, IPS,, and MSD Lawrence. And we're getting noticed for it already. Read the IndyStar's Season of Sharing piece that just came out yesterday.