The 5-2-1-0 Rule and How to Live by It

Introducing a healthier lifestyle to your child can seem a little daunting. With the 5-2-1-0 rule though, not only can it help your entire family become healthier, it can be an empowering and rewarding experience. The 5-2-1-0 rule follows four simple guidelines that encourage every aspect of a healthier lifestyle.

“5” is the number of servings of fruits and vegetables that your child should aim to eat each day. Vegetables and fruit provide a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants important for promoting and protecting good health.

Fruits and vegetables are easy to incorporate into one’s diet; it’s especially important to serve during every meal or snack your child has. Salads, smoothies, stews, and vegetable stocks are some of the easy dishes that you and your child can enjoy.

“2” is the maximum number of hours of recreational screen time that your child should have per day.  One way to prevent too much screen time is not to allow your child to have a television in their room. In reducing the number of hours of screen time, this will aid in encouraging a more active lifestyle.

“1” is the ideal number of hours of physical activity your child should have per day. Physical activity can improve your child’s physical and mental health. Sixty minutes of moderate physical activity – or 30 minutes of vigorous physical activity – can be achieved through fun and engaging activities for your child, such as tag games, playing outdoors, biking, hiking, or a game of soccer. Being active together as a family can further encourage an increase in physical activity. Family outings such as going to the zoo, ice skating, or miniature golf will not only help your child be more active, but also aid in positioning parents as positive and engaged role models.

“0” is the number of sugary drinks your child should consume. Keep beverages like water handy and avoid such sugar-added drinks like slushies, sports drinks, soda, energy drinks and flavoured milks. While some juices do not have added sugars, they do contain natural sugars. In order to fulfill five or more servings a day, pack your child fresh fruit as opposed to a juice box.

The 5-2-1-0 rule makes introducing and following a healthy lifestyle simple, in that it outlines an easy-to-follow set of guidelines. It also directly aligns with the Family Healthy Living Program.

The program supports families in making changes to healthy behaviours such as healthy eating, physical activity, screen time and sleep that support your child’s own health behaviours. The program is focused on practical, fun activities that build family connectedness while building both the parent/caregiver’s and the child’s skills to make lasting changes. The program also incorporates positive mental health activities that build resilience and self confidence and help to enhance overall well-being.

Living a healthy lifestyle can greatly affect the overall wellbeing of a child, from his or her happiness to setting a healthy tone for your child’s entire life. Introducing a young child to the 5-2-1-0 rule will encourage him or her to continue these practices into the child’s teenage and adult years.

The Family Healthy Living Program is currently available in 10 communities in British Columbia and is delivered at local recreation centres by trained leaders who will support your family in the changes to your physical activity and eating habits.

Learn more about the Family Healthy Living  program, including how your family can benefit and programs running near you.