healthy lifestyle routine

Do’s and don’ts of a healthy lifestyle routine

Caroline O’Donovan, Nutritionist with the National Dairy Council, shares her list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to a healthy lifestyle routine.

Back to school marks a fresh beginning and structure for the next nine or 10 months of your family’s year, so it’s a good opportunity to encourage healthy lifestyle routines and habits from the get-go.

Caroline’s do’s and don’ts

DO get the kids involved

Learning about food and nutrition are important life skills and should be encouraged from an early age. Children are more likely to be interested in their lunches if they have helped to choose and prepare them. Don’t be afraid to let them experiment.

DO try new foods

Trying new foods from an early age plays a huge role in a child’s willingness and acceptance of different foods. Children’s food preferences evolve as their palates mature. Continuously encouraging them to try new and different foods is a crucial step in their development of good eating habits.

DO shake things up

Variety is key, not only does variation in the diet provide nutritional benefits, but it reduces boredom and lack of interest in food. This is particularly important for children and teenagers, as they can be prone to becoming fussy eaters.

DO tailor lunches to the time of year

For example, a flask of soup with brown bread during the winter months or a pasta salad during spring and summer.

DO make it look appetising

It is worth spending that extra few minutes on presentation, especially for younger children. Aim for a variety of shapes, colours and textures in the lunchbox. The more pleasing a packed lunch looks; the more likely kids are to eat and enjoy it. It may be worth investing in colourful, easy-open Tupperware, lunchboxes and thermos flasks to liven up the school lunchtime.

DO be prepared and organised

Preparation in advance will not only save you time, but will reduce the chances of opting for last minute ready-made lunches or convenience foods which can be high in sugar, fat and salt.

healthy lifestyle routine

DON’T leave it to the last minute

Lack of time may increase the chance of filling lunchboxes with unhealthy, convenience foods.

DON’T repeat the same lunches over and over

While it’s a good idea to establish a number of reliable lunches that work, try not to overdo it. Mixing it up will increase the variety of nutrients provided.

DON’T forget about portion size

This should be specifically tailored to your child/teen’s age, size and activity levels. Younger children will generally need smaller portions than older or more active children.

DON’T forget about hydration

Research suggests dehydration can lead to reduced concentration and performance in children. Water and milk are two excellent tooth-friendly choices; try to avoid sugary drinks.

DON’T forget about breakfast

It’s no myth that ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’. Break the overnight fast and set the school goers up with a bowl of milky porridge or mixed berries with yogurt and granola. It can be a long wait until small break, so opt for a breakfast that will fill and fuel.

More like this:

Fuelled for school
The weekly cost of a healthy family diet
Portion control


Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….



Q. I’m would like to start an exercise programme that will benefit my emotional health as much as my physical health, but I don’t know which type of class would be best. Should I consider choosing from yoga, pilates, tai chi, or could you recommend a class, please?

A It’s great that you have decided to get into exercise. The benefits to you are going to be great. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, better skin, reduced stressed, not to mention all the amazing physical benefits of your clothes fitting better, and looking healthy, trim and toned! My advice to you would be to try them all. Even if some don’t offer pay-as-you-go sessions, if you get in touch directly with the instructor, they will almost always let you try it out first to see if it’s for you. All of the above things that you mentioned are great for mental health, so it really will be a personal preference as to which you go for. On top of the classes you mention, all forms of exercise will give you great mental rewards so consider the not so obvious interval training sessions, bootcamp, and circuits too, as you will also feel on top of the world after a class like that.