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Eating healthy and exercising don't have to be boring!  You can spice up nourishing snacks and get exercise without even realizing it with the following tips.

Eating Right

You should be eating about 6 oz. of grains every day-try to make at least half of them whole grains.  This isn't as bland as you think.  For breakfast, try oatmeal.  For snacks, munch on low-fat popcorn, and substitute brown rice for white rice at the dinner table.  And remember, just because bread is brown doesn't mean it's whole grain.  Take a look at the packaging to make sure it says "whole wheat" or "whole grain" and check the label on the back to make sure it has at least 2g of fiber.

You need at least 2.5 cups of vegetables a day.  Have fun with your veggies by choosing different colors for your plate.  Go green with broccoli or asparagus, and reach for oragne with carrots and sweet potatoes.

Every day you should eat at least two cups of fruit, but this shouldn't be hard when fruits are nature's candy-sweet and delicious.  Try dried fruits for an easy snack, or add berries to your cereal or oatmeal in the morning.  You can also add frozen fruit to smoothies for a tasty treat in the summertime.  Don't get tricked by juices.  Read the label, and make sure they're 100 percent fruit and don't contain high fructose corn syrup.

Calcium builds strong bones.  Make sure to eat three cups of calcium-rich foods, like milk, on a daily basis.  Check the labels to make sure your milk, yogurt, or cheese is low fat or fat free. You can grab a yogurt for a delicious snack on the go and toss in some fresh fruit for and added flavor -and nutrient-bonus!

Protein-which you need for building muscles-can be found in lots of different foods from beef, poultry, and fish to nuts, seeds, and beans.  Ask for your meat baked, broiled or grilled, not fried, and spice up a salad with chickpeas, sunflower seeds, or almonds.  Peanut butter falls into the protein category as well, but be sure to eat only small servings as it's also high in fat.  (Red meat is not the enemy.)

Get your fat facts and your sugar smarts from the nutrition labels of food and drink.  Limit foods that are high in fats and sugars.

Fun Snacks

Ants on a log - spread peanut butter on a celery stick and decorate with raisins.

Fruit smoothies - blend low-fat yogurt, orange juice and your favorite fruits together for a refreshing snack.

Trail mix - make your own trail mix by combining your favorite nuts, seeds and dried fruits.

Take a dip - dip veggies in low-fat ranch dip or hummus, and try dipping fruits such as apples in peanut butter.

Homemade popsicles - fill an ice cube tray with lemonade or another fruit juice and place popsicle sticks in each compartment to make your own frozen treats.

Get Moving

Turn the TV off, and move more.  Aim for at least 60 minutes of activity every day.  Swim, run, walk the dog, bike, rollerblade, climb trees, play outside with your friends-it all counts!

Fun Ways to Exercise

Weight lifting.  Ask your PE teacher or an adult to teach you how to do it right, so you don't hurt yourself.  Take turns with a friend to give your muscles a break between repetitions. 

Play a pickup game of soccer or baseball with friends.

Kayaking.  Head down to a lake or a river and paddle around.

Jumping rope. Have a competition with friends to see who can go the longest without stepping on the rope.

Dance.  Turn up the volume on your favorite tunes, and invite your friends over for an impromptu dance party.  You can find a lot of great music on www.YouTube.com.


Drink plenty of water.  Hydration is the key element to being fit.  Teenagers need at least eight 8-oz. glasses a day.  If you are not a teenager yet, you should drink at least five.  Don't replace water with fruit juices, sodas or high-sugar sports drings because these may actually dehydrate your body more.

Get Plenty of Sleep

Nobody wants to have an early bedtime, but catching some extra z's is good for your body.  Young children need as much as 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night, and eight hours is ideal for older kids.

If you don't get enough sleep and rest, you may have a harder time learning at school and reach for food more to get additional energy.  Turning off the TV and computer well before bedtime will help you get to sleep much quicker.  Instead, read a book or talk to your parents or siblings about your day.

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