Weight management previously was considered to be an “adult” issue. But since childhood obesity is on the rise, weight management and the health issues associated with excess weight such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, breathing problems and depression are also now childhood issues. Campaigns such as Let’s Move, Fuel Up to Play 60, Play 60, Voices for Healthy Kids, Eat, Play, Grow and Kids Eat Right highlight the need to help our kids maintain a healthy weight. Check out these strategies to help the kids in your life stay active and eat healthy!
Lead by example. One of the most important ways you can help teach a child is by providing them with a good example to follow. If you’re maintaining your weight through healthy eating and physical activity, they will be more inclined to do so and more likely to respond positively to your efforts to help them.
Educate them. Children are quick learners. Teaching them to eat healthy and be active is helpful for when they’re at school or with a friend. It may also help them establish and maintain healthy habits as they progress into adulthood.
Encourage healthy eating. Chances are you’re doing the shopping, food preparation and serving meals, so you should easily be able to control what your kids are eating. Limit the purchase of junk foods and sugary beverages, while choosing nutritious options (always stock up on fruits and vegetables!). Dietary recommendations for kids are based on their age; refer to this guide from the Mayo Clinic to help you determine what types and amounts of food your kids should be eating.
Try these tips to help your kids eat healthier:
- Involve them in shopping and cooking. Participating makes nutrition fun.
- Provide them with options, but only healthy options. If you have a picky kid, offer three healthy choices rather than forcing them to eat one. By having the ability to choose, they’re more likely to eat with enthusiasm rather than resistance.
- Keep healthy snacks available for quick access when they’re hungry, such as yogurt, cut up fruit/vegetables, or nuts. If they’re really hungry, they will eat the healthy option.
- Avoid using food as a reward. Promising them a treat for eating heathier foods makes the treat have higher value to them.
- Let them think they’re helping you. They may be more likely to eat healthy if they think that they’re helping your health because of it.
Inspire activity. Weight management is a balance of calories consumed through food versus calories burned through activity. If you’re not burning more than or equal to the calories you’re eating, you will gain weight. This will also occur in children. Keep your children moving by promoting physical activities such as riding bikes, playing tag, jumping rope, roller skating, or any other activity your child enjoys. Reduce the amount of time your child is seated in one place by limiting TV, computer, video and tablet games, and other sedentary activities.
Follow these tips to keep your family moving:
- Write a list of activities with your family to do together.
- Schedule a regular time throughout the week for an activity.
- Alternate selecting an activity so everyone has an opportunity to pick.
- Vary your activities for more healthy benefits.
- Encourage participation in sports or classes. Find opportunities for your children to play soccer, baseball, softball, gymnastics, etc.
- Move around during commercials, play video or computer games standing up, or take a break to stretch or wiggle while using tablets.