Looking good and feeling good has a lot to do with what you eat. Chips, candy, cookies, soda – does this sound like you? It’s a crash and burn food cycle that leaves your body out of whack. It may taste good in the moment, but there is a down side to eating foods high in fat, sugar and salt and we’re not just talking about that tired feeling you get a few hours after a sugar high.
Food is supposed to give your body the fuel and nutrients it needs to work right. It keeps your energy up so you can be more awake at school or during activities. The vitamins in food help you fight off sickness too. If you are going to live all the way to be 100 years old, your body will need lots of great food with a big variety of healthy choices. Isn’t it cool that your insides know just what to do with all the foods you eat?
Don’t worry. We’re not saying you can never ever eat a slice of pizza or cake again. It’s all about moderation and balance. We even bet that pizza will taste a whole lot better when it’s a special treat instead of the daily norm.
Check out the recipe section for some great ideas for snacks and meals that will keep you powered up…not crashing down.
We know the drill – you get home from school and all the sudden your stomach is growling louder than a grizzly bear. You head to the fridge or pantry in search of something filling. Use this as an opportunity to set your eating habits by making smart selections. If you’re having a hard time passing up the chips and soda, ask your parents to stock the house with wholesome foods instead. They’ll understand. You’d be doing them a favor too! Here are some great snack ideas to quiet your belly and give you energy.
- Low-fat yogurt
- Low-fat cottage cheese
- Low-fat string cheese
- Whole grain crackers
- Trail mix
- Peanut Butter
- Turkey slices
- Nuts (especially almonds)
When you are thirsty, there are a lot of choices for what to drink. Soda may taste great and keep you awake, but when you drink too much of it your body pays an unhealthy price. It has a ton of empty calories with no nutritional value. When you get your calories from liquids, it doesn’t make you feel full. This may cause you to keep drinking or eating to satisfy your hunger, which can lead to unhealthy weight gain. Even worse, it increases a person's chances of getting type 2 diabetes, the second most common childhood disease in the U.S.
Soda shock: soda may taste great, but drink too much of it and your body pays an unhealthy price.
Instead of soda, choose water or milk most of the time and you will have a happy healthy body. Save soda and sugary juices for a special treat. Water may seem boring to you now, but so does air and imagine your body without air. Your body needs water just like air. Did you know that your body is mostly made up of water? That’s why it is the perfect drink!
Another really important part of a having a healthy lifestyle is getting enough exercise and staying active. Remember when we talked about the foods you eat? Well, your body turns that food into energy. Pretty neat, huh? Imagine that granola bar you just ate turning into energy almost like gasoline for a car. Your body only needs a certain amount of energy each day though. If there is any left over, your body will store it as extra weight. So how can you make sure that your body doesn’t have to store so much? Simple – stay active.
Instead of coming home and spending your whole evening on the computer, playing video games or in front of the TV, get active instead. Just one hour a day (2 episodes of a show) can make all the difference in your body’s health.
In 60 minutes, you can help keep your body working right. This could be dancing, swimming, playing, walking, biking, joining a sports team, stretching, gymnastics, skating, soccer, football, baseball, basket ball, climbing trees, running, racing, laser tag, bowling, walking the dog, washing your car (or parent’s car for brownie points) or anything that gets your body up and moving around. Even Wii Fit and Dance Dance Revolution count! There are so many different ways to be active and this list is a just a small example. What else can you think of?
When you are staying active, you’ll have these great benefits:
- Improved sleep
- Strong bones and muscles
- Being full of energy
- Increased strength
- Boredom fighter
- Things to do with your friends and family
- Balanced weight
In other words, you’ll feel really good about yourself. So get out, get moving and make exercise a healthy habit today!
Balancing Your Mind
What does it mean to you when someone talks about balancing your mind? Maybe you’ve never thought about it. Speaking of “thoughts”, your mind is actually made up of your thoughts. So keeping your mind balanced means that you have healthy thoughts. This is just as important as keeping your body fit. Why? Well, your mind actually has a lot of control over your body and your thoughts make up your attitude, which can affect your health.
Does that sound confusing? Well, have you ever felt nervous with butterflies in your stomach? Have you ever been scared and then got a headache or bellyache? Maybe you’ve felt shy and then weren’t able to talk. What about a breakup that made your heart feel broken? This is how your thoughts can make things happen to your body.
Sometimes your emotions are running wild and your thoughts are racing a million miles a minute. Things pop into your head and you wonder if they are normal. Conflict, stress, pressure and other life events can put your mind on overdrive. Talk with your parents, a trusted adult or a good friend to vent when you are feeling overwhelmed. This will help keep your mind balanced.
The best thing about your mind is that it is so powerful, it can help you achieve almost anything you set out to do. Even though it may not always be easy, if you believe you can do it, you’ll have a much better chance at making it happen.
Understanding Your Feelings
The way you feel inside can make a big difference in your life. How are you feeling right now? What are the reasons you are feeling that way? Let’s think about a typical day and the types of feelings you may experience.
Maybe someone called you a name and it made you upset. Maybe you heard a friend say something mean about another person in school and you felt pressured to join in. Maybe your teacher asked you to do a presentation in front of the class and it made you feel uncomfortable or downright scared. These feelings don’t make you feel good inside like being happy or excited does, but they are all normal parts of life. Remember that everyone has their own feelings and sometimes people experience the same situation, but have totally different feelings. One thing that is universal though is when someone intentionally sets out to hurt another person physically or emotionally. You can bet the person on the receiving end will be affected in a negative way. Chances are, the person doling out the insults won’t feel so good about themselves in the future either.
Sometimes writing in a diary or journal can help you work through all the feelings you are experiencing. When you need to verbalize it, talk to your parents, family members or trusted friends about some of the feelings you have. The more you talk about things, the more you can take control of how you react.
Learning About How Your Body Works
What Makes You Unique?
Your body is really remarkable. You have muscles, bones, organs, veins, tissue, skin, nails, teeth, hair, cells and tons more on the inside. How does each of these parts know what to do? And how does your body know what to look like on the outside? It’s all about your genes and DNA, which are like instructions for your body. They give all your parts and pieces the directions needed to function and for what they should look like. Your genes are responsible for giving you traits, which are passed from generation to generation. You inherit them from your parents and then pass them on to your own children when you grow up.
- Your fabulous hair? Yep, genes.
- Your beautiful eyes? Yep, genes.
- Your big or small feet? Yep, genes.
- Your acne? Sorry, it’s those genes again.
You can learn more about the basics of your genes here: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/begin/tour/
Keeping Your Body Healthy
We know you like sick days where you can stay home from school, but ask anyone who has had the flu how fun it is. They likely would have rather avoided that if possible. Your body has what is called an immune system. It is made up of white blood cells, which are like secret agents that go out and find infections and diseases that try and make you sick. Sometimes they don’t always fend off colds, but you can help your immune system in the fight to stay healthy by proper hygiene, eating good foods and getting enough exercise.
Changes In Your Body
As you grow from a kid to a teen, your body goes through many changes in preparation for someday becoming an adult. It’s almost like a practice session for adulthood and it’s called puberty. By now, you’ve probably heard a lot about it from your parents or at school. Once again, your genes are responsible for determining when and how your body will change. It can be a very confusing and uncomfortable time, but if you understand what is happening, you’ll feel better. First realize that it happens to everyone. It’s a very normal and important part of life and it includes physical, mental and emotional changes. Although you may feel embarrassed, talk with your parents or a trusted confidant about some of the things on your mind.
For more information on the changes in your body during puberty, click here: http://health.discovery.com/centers/teen/puberty/puberty.html
Getting Enough Rest
Your body needs rest and relaxation for your wellbeing. Even though you may not like it when your parents say “lights-out”, they got the right idea. It’s really important that you get enough shut-eye. Your body does a lot of essential stuff while you are sleeping – even though you can’t feel it or remember it the next morning! How does your body know how to do all of this great stuff to keep you healthy?
Did you know that your body needs at least nine hours of sleep every night? Adults only need about seven hours. That is why they can stay up later than you and still get enough rest. And no, your parents didn’t pay us to say that!
Besides all of the things that happen while you are sleeping, it also helps you when you are awake. It’s common sense - if you do not get enough rest, you will feel tired. Then you may end up skipping breakfast, turning to candy or soda for jolts of energy and you’ll find it hard to focus in school.
Beep! Beep! Beep! That’s your alarm clock going off in the morning. How do you feel? Do you want to put a pillow over your ears and hope the alarm magically disappears? Do you brush your teeth with your eyes closed half way asleep? Do you yawn through first period…and well…throughout the day? By getting the right amount of sleep, you can wake up refreshed and ready to make healthy choices all day long. You may still hate that alarm, but at least you can function better – plus you’ll look better.
Creating Good Relationships
Healthy relationships are about trust, honesty, respect and taking other people’s feelings into consideration. You can have many different types of relationships – with your parents, family, teachers, friends, teammates, coaches, boy or girlfriends and so many more. When you have a good relationship, you feel safe. You know that the other person has your best interest in mind. They wouldn’t try to intentionally hurt you. And you certainly do not feel bullied.
If somebody is using verbal insults, mean language, nasty putdowns or bullying you, then that is an unhealthy relationship and you need to let your parents, teacher or trusted adult know about it. Don’t maintain a toxic relationship, like frenemies. If you feel emotionally strong, you can even communicate directly to the person who is making you feel bad. Communicate what things he or she is doing that upset you. Keep in mind that you are a very special person and no one can take that away from you.
What about your own behavior? Have you picked on someone before? Have you made fun of a person because they have a different size, look, race, religion or way they talk? Maybe you have a group of friends that sometimes tease other kids and you feel peer pressured to join in. Remember that everyone has feelings and it’s not right to make fun of someone else. Instead, try getting to know the person. After all, it would be a very boring world if everyone were exactly the same.
It’s a sad fact, there is a growing trend of cyber bullying. This can be really serious and has even lead teens to do tragic things. Maybe you feel because you are not in front of the person that it’s not as bad when you post mean things about someone else. News flash, it is. Big time. On the flip side, if you are on the receiving end, you know how painful it can be. Social networking should connect you to friends and family in a positive way. If it’s not enhancing your life, then there’s no reason to be a part of it.
- Don’t give out personal information such as name, address, phone number, e-mail address or passwords - personal, family or friends.
- Don’t exchange pictures or e-mail addresses with people you meet online without getting your parents permission first.
- Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say offline. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, you probably shouldn’t say it online.
- Don’t post comments or send messages when you are angry.
- Delete messages from people you don’t know, or that seem angry or mean.
- Remember that online conversations aren’t private. Others can copy, print and share your conversations, photos and messages.