Healthy Family Websites5 Sites for a Healthier Household
-- By Nicole Nichols, Fitness Instructor & Health Educator
Sometimes it can be difficult to quickly and easily find accurate information that you can share with your kids about health, their bodies, eating well and exercising. However, many reputable organizations offer free health, nutrition and fitness information to parents and kids. Here's a list of great websites that everyone in the family can enjoy!
Dr. Bill Sears, a renowned pediatrician, father of eight, and author of over 30 childcare books, along with his wife (a nurse) and two of his sons (both doctors) teamed up to create the information on this helpful website.
From pregnancy to childbirth, breastfeeding to family nutrition, this site is an excellent source for new parents or any parent with young children. Information on parenting styles and discipline is also current and helpful. The site is easy to navigate, well-organized, and even offers free email newsletters as well as a section of recommended links and resources on pregnancy, parenting, and pediatric topics.
The KidsHealth website has three main sections, one for parents, a second for kids, and a third for teens. Each section contains age-appropriate information for that audience, on everything from health, diseases and conditions, nutrition, sleep, fitness, emotions, and how the body works. Everything on this site is also available in Spanish!
For Parents: Learn the basics of first aid and caring for a sick child. In addition, this section teaches parents how to talk to their kids about the issues that they'll face at different ages. Whether your child is overweight or was recently diagnosed with a medical condition, you'll find plenty of medically-accepted information and advice here.
For Kids: Young children will love the bright colors and animations on this section of the site. Many topics are covered, including how their bodies work and change as they grow up, dealing with bullies at school, as well as general health, nutrition, fitness and safety. Your 8 to 11-year-old will love the interactive games (like "Mission Nutrition") and movies as well.
- For Teens: Adolescents today deal with all kinds of health issues, and this site explains them simply and matter-of-factly. Whether your teen wants more information about sexual health, fitness, or losing weight, this section of the site has it all. Parents can rest-assured, knowing that their teens are receiving accurate and appropriate information for their age, especially on issues that your child may be too embarrassed to ask you about herself.<pagebreak>
This website, from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), features information about the "My Plate" icon, which replaced the former food guide pyramid in 2011. The Plate illustrates five food groups using a familiar mealtime place setting to serve as a visual reminder to eat healthfully at every meal. The website features information and tips aimed to help Americans build healthier diets by implementing the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
For Kids: A child-friendly section of the site offers fun games and printable posters, coloring pages and worksheets to help the younger set learn what it means to eat healthier. These are all excellent ways to engage children to learn helpful nutrition lessons while having fun.
- For Parents: Find out how to build a healthy plate for your specific nutrient needs using the five food groups. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, there is information to help you meet your specialized needs as well. Are you trying to find that right balance between "energy in" and "energy out" to reach your healthiest weight? You can take advantage of customizing your plate through interactive tools.
If you or any of your family members are vegetarian, then this site, from the American Dietetic Association (ADA), should be one of your main sources of information. Plenty of research shows that well-planned vegetarian diets can reduce the risk of many lifestyle diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, and more. Many individuals can reduce these risks by simply replacing a few meat-based meals per week with plant-based ones.
It's not uncommon for children and teens to decide they no longer want to eat meat or animal products. Rather than forcing your child to eat meat because you don't understand vegetarianism, this site will help you support your child's decisions and ensure he's staying healthy and meeting his nutritional needs. You can purchase articles written by registered dietitians on various topics, such as transitioning to a vegetarian lifestyle, vegan nutrition, and vegetarian children. One section of the site offers links to several other recommended sites about vegetarianism.
Created by two medical doctors, this site is an excellent reference for parents. It provides accurate, timely, and trustworthy information about your child’s health. Of course, this site is intended for educational purposes only and does not substitute for medical advice or care.
However, if you're ever in a pinch or wondering (like many parents do) if your child's symptoms warrant a doctor visit or not, check out the "Common Questions, Quick Answers" sections. An easy-to-navigate list of symptoms, conditions, injuries, and even safety precautions (such as bicycle safety) will help you find the information you're looking for before (or after) you make a trip to the family doctor.