Dr. Susan Maples is a health educator and practicing dentist for 37 years. Her total health dental practice focuses on mouth-body connections and strives to help patients prevent many of the most common life-diminishing conditions affecting people today. Her latest book, Brave Parent Raising Healthy, Happy Kids (against all odds) in Today’s World, is a must-read for any parent hoping to help their children build habits for a healthier future. By focusing on prevention, Brave Parents have an opportunity to prevent many diseases from becoming life-long struggles for their children.
According to Maples, “We are amidst a tragic downward trajectory in health– and not from communicable diseases (such as COVID) but from non-communicable, preventable diseases. In fact, most children are afflicted with a number of lifestyle-related conditions such as obesity, insulin resistance, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, rampant tooth decay, depression, anxiety disorders and addiction to everything from caffeine and sugar to heroin.”
“Today’s challenges in raising a child to grow strong in body, mind and spirit are dizzyingly complex,” says Maples. “I wrote this book to help wannabe Brave Parents sort out these critical issues with evidence-based solutions. I wanted to help them build actionable plans to raise healthy, happy kids.”
To start your journey, Maples suggests these five tips:
The one-finger rule with packaged goods:
If your child can’t cover the ingredient list with one finger (usually meaning there are more than five ingredients), ditch it. Those additives that make this “food” are not really food at all.
Eliminate all sugary beverages:
Purge them, including fruit juice, sports drinks, sweetened water, sweet tea, soda and energy drinks. Sugar consumption is the root of all evil when it comes to obesity and metabolic disease stimulus. It’s not that sugar is inherently bad, but a little goes a long way.
Better sleep hygiene:
Design some pre-bedroom-time routines that help your children wind down. Establish a screentime curfew. Keep your child’s room as dark as possible and the room cooler at night.
Never neglect emotional, social and cognitive health:
Teach your kids how to reduce stress and worry. Help them recognize the signs of depression and teach them the importance of self-care. And continue to love them, no matter what.
Foster a daily dose of get-up-N-go:
According to the most recent statistics from Public Health, 30 per cent of Canadian children aged 5-17 are overweight or obese. And there is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic may have contributed to an increase in this percentage. Exercise has many benefits – better heart and lung fitness, stronger bones, more restful sleep, emotional stability, and improved cognitive function. Accept that daily exercise is essential for your child’s overall well-being.
Brave Parent is your roadmap covering everything from growth and development to setting your child up for a lifetime of healthy habits. “It will answer your most pressing questions about your kids’ health, and just might help parents get back to optimal health at the same time.”