How do we nurture our children in the new normal?

A simple pneumonic that every family can do to achieve good health and fight obesity is as simple as Go for 5-2-1 and 0.

The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically altered our lives, both microscopically and macroscopically. The series of lockdowns has forced us to stay in, stuck with feelings of boredom, fear, insecurity and restlessness. A lot of unhealthy lifestyle practices have emerged because of these unfavorable conditions: children are glued to the phone or tablet almost the entire day; we binge-watch on netflix; we resort to canned food as quick sources of nourishment, and food deliveries have become at the tip of our fingertips that we no longer bother to prepare food the healthy way. The end result is not good, as we are starting to see health problems cropping up like constipation, overweight and obesity. It is time to be mindful of our daily habits and transform them into healthy habits that will lead to good health and a vibrant life. A simple pneumonic that every family can do to achieve good health and fight obesity is as simple as Go for 5-2-1 and 0.

Rule 5 – 5 or more servings of fruit and vegetables per day

Fruits and vegetables contain many nutrients that the child’s body needs, and should take the place of high calorie, nutrient poor food like fast food and potato chips. Numerous evidence show that a diet high in fruits and vegetables decreases a child’s risk for cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Rule 2 – 2 hours of screen time or less per day

Children who watch more than 2 hours of recreational screen time per day have double the incidence of overweight and obesity compared to children who watch less than 1 hour per day. Limit recreational screen time to 2 hours or less per day and explore ways to keep children physically active. Children less than 2 years old should not be allowed to watch the TV, phone or tablet. A TV is also not recommended in the children’s bedroom, no matter what the age.

Rule 1 – 1 hour of physical activity or more per day

Physical activity leads to an improvement of both physical and mental health. Children should engage in an accumulation of at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day. Some ideas to help your child more active include: (1) involving children in household chores such as car washing, dishwashing, dog walking; (2) engaging in sports as a family like trips to the park or beach, hiking, doing exercise videos; (3) taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or walking a few blocks instead of using the car.

Rule 0 – 0 sugar sweetened beverages per day

One of the major contributors to childhood obesity is the overconsumption of sugary drinks such as iced tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit-flavored drinks, sports drinks, milk tea, hot chocolate and other specialty drinks. Substitute these drinks with plain milk and water to drink. Some ideas to make water more palatable include adding fruits like lemon, apple, strawberry or herbal infusions like cucumber, mint or basil to the water. It is also better to give your child fresh fruit instead of fruit juice.

Go for 5-2-1-0 is a simple pneumonic that we can all start to follow today. We can start small, bearing in mind that little small changes each day can still go a long way.


What every family can do: The 5-2-1-0 Rule. Retrieved at