We have heard a lot of news recently about the alarming statistics on child obesity in the United States. Studies show that as much as 30 to 40% of children are obese. Health professionals report that they are seeing increasing numbers of children with health concerns that used to only affect adults, such as high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and hip problems.
By participating with your children in a regime of exercise, healthy eating and modeling good choices, you can help to keep them healthy for a lifetime.
One of the most important things you can do to help your child lose weight or prevent them from gaining weight, is to start an exercise regime. Get them started in a sport they like or take lessons after school. Consult your local parks and recreation department or do a search for children’s sports in your area.
Take everyone out for a neighborhood walk after dinner, or for a hike on the weekend. Before starting any exercise, began with a warm up session of approximately 5 minutes of stretches or jumping jacks. Then head out for a walk or bike ride. Afterwards, have a cool down period of about five minutes to get the heart rate back to normal.
Have children help you with household chores and yard work. Take the stairs rather than the escalator or elevator whenever possible, and choose parking spots further out from the store to sneak in extras steps throughout the day.
A healthy diet
Slowly introduce healthier choices in to the family diet. Switch from white bread to 100% whole wheat bread, and exchange white rice up for brown rice for example. Let children help you with the cooking. They will be excited about eating something they helped to prepare. Limit their snacks to healthy choices. For example offer, baby carrots, sliced apples or grapes and do not have chips or candy around the house.
If kids do not take well to eating in the healthier foods, don’t give up. It can take four or five times of trying a new food before kids will begin to eat them. Serve the foods that are naturally more sweet such as sweet corn or mandarin oranges.
Sit down together as a family for meals. Turn off the TV and do not allow other distractions. Switch to smaller plates to encourage eating smaller portions. Have mealtime be family time where everyone shares events from their day.
Model and a healthy lifestyle
Exercise and eat right to serve as a role model for a healthy lifestyle for your children. Have them exercise with you and play games that involve physical activity. When you sit down to eat a meal, don’t just tell them to eat their fruits and vegetables but eat those healthy foods yourself.
Do not use food as a reward for your children or yourself. Keep lots of healthy foods on hand such as fresh fruit and cut vegetables. Have a picture of water in the refrigerator and do not purchase a sugary soft drinks. Limit the amount of time children are allowed to watch television and use the computer.
By taking an active part in getting your children involved exercise and healthy eating, as well as serving as a role model, you can help your children avoid obesity and help them live long and healthy lives.