Fitness guru Emmet Rushe gives tips to get you and your child more active and eating better in the new school year.

It’s that time of year again.

Time seems to go faster. Darkness arrives earlier and earlier, as families get back into the school routine.

With the relaxed nature of the long summer holidays, for many, eating habits and routine quickly went out the window.

It is time to get back into the habit of planning meals and set meal times, (and indeed meal days in some homes!), that comes with the school year.

With childhood obesity on the rise, here are some tips that are taken from ‘’ that can make the planning a bit easier and healthier.

Little food change-ups for the little ones

  • Children don’t need the same amount of food as adults.  They are much smaller than us and should not be expected to eat the same amount as we do.
  • Try using plates and cutlery to match their size.  This will give them smaller portion sizes and if they finish it and want more food, you can give it to them.
  • If your children say that they are hungry between meals, give them something nutritious such as fruit and vegetables.
  • Try and avoid having sugary snacks (eg. Cookie jars) freely available in the kitchen.  This will save a lot of arguments when they come looking for a snack.
  • Make ‘treats’ exactly that, a treat. Don’t let them have one every day, it should be an occasional occurrence.
  • Keep the portions small or ‘fun sized’, and remember that ‘treats’ do not always have to be in the form of sugary food or drink.  Cheese and crackers or carrot sticks can also be a “treat”.
  • If your children drink a lot of soft drinks, try and gradually reduce the amount they consume.
  • Switching them to cordials and then gradually watering down these to help encourage drinking of water.

Think about healthy treats

Get your children active:

  • Start with adding in some fun activities into their daily routine that last between 15 and 30mins.
    These can then be extended until at least 60mins of physical activities are reached each day.
  • Join in with them and don’t let things like the rain interfere. (They are not made of sugar!)
  • Try and aim for less than 2 hours of screen time per day.  This includes television, smart phones and computers.

Meal Times

Make meal times screen-free: our appetite is satisfied a number of ways and visual satisfaction plays a role in this.

If we are distracted during meal times, our bodies may not signal that we have been fully satisfied during the meal and a false hunger can follow.

Sleepy Heads

  • Encourage more sleep.
  • Children who don’t get enough sleep may be at risk of becoming overweight.
    Try and ensure that your child’s room is dark, comfortable warm and is a screen-free zone.
  • The recommended hours of sleep per night are:
    11 hours for children under 5 years old
    10+ hours for children over 5 years old
    9 hours for children over 10 years old

These are some small tips and hints that can get you and your child more active and improve their eating habits.

Making small changes to your children’s diet and physical activity can make big differences in their future health.