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10 Healthy habits for your grandchildren

Eat less and play more

It's a time-honored grandparent tradition. Ply the little ones with sweets while they laze about during visits to your house. Allowing them to form these kinds of habits, though, does little to steer them on a path to long-term health.

6. Lingo of Labels

Before your grandchildren arrive for their next visit, spend a half hour or so learning more about food labels so you can stock your cart -- and your cabinets -- with more healthful food items. Hint: For a quick study of how to better scan labels, go to Katz's Nutrition Detectives program website.

7. Guilt-free Snacks

Wash grapes and set them on the table, or create a colorful fruit bowl worthy of a still-life. 'When you put out fresh fruit that looks appetizing, kids will eat more of it,' says Katz. And, kids love dipping. So, set out baby carrots with hummus or baked pita chips with bean dip. This doesn't mean your kitchen has to be a bare-bones dieter's paradise. 'It's absolutely possible to enjoy chips and cookies and desserts and still get good nutrition,' says Katz.

8. Better-for-Them Holiday Traditions

If you mostly see your grandkids on special occasions, you can still encourage healthy living ... Without spoiling the fun. If you're making a birthday cake, 'you can often tweak a recipe and still preserve the taste and appearance while winding up with something far better nutritionally,' says Katz. Balance the high-calorie options with smart side dishes -- big salads, whole-grain bread, and heaps of vegetables -- and end the feast with fresh fruit alongside the pie.

9. Team Up with Parents

'Frankly, it's a parent's job to instill healthy habits in their kids and if your children are making the mission impossible, you really need to talk to them,' says Katz. If you and your kids don't agree on how to encourage good habits in your grandkids, all you can do is gently convey the message to them and model the behavior yourself. Be careful though not to annoy your adult children ... Or they may shut you out, cautions Bartell.

10. Get Involved on a Community Level

When it comes to obesity and related health problems, 'it's not just your grandchild who is in danger' reminds Katz, so think about advocating for change on a larger scale. 'Raise hell about junk food in schools and tell your politicians, 'I want to take my grandkid out to eat and I can't find a place that serves healthy food,'' says Katz. 'Every community is capable of producing a powerful cohort of grandparents that can change the world.'

It doesn't always come naturally to think of the long-term health of your grandchildren. You want to see a smile on the baby's face right now and sometimes offer whatever it takes -- a spoonful of ice cream, a sip of soda -- to get it. 'But, don't just think about what makes you feel good,' says Renna. 'Do what is in the best interest of your grandchild.' Explain to them that you love them so much that you want them to be healthy and happy ... For life.

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