7 Simple Ways to Help Your Kids Fight Obesity
The number of overweight children around the world increases at an alarming rate every year. This can be contributed to varied reasons - genetics, lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating patterns, or a combination of these factors.
Extra pounds put children’s health at serious risk and this might result to diabetes, heart disease and asthma. Moreover, it can also cause emotional and psychological problems like low self-esteem, negative body image, depression, eating disorders and substance abuse among children.
Needless to say, you can keep your children from being a part of the demographics by helping them maintain a healthy weight. How? Here are some tips.
1. Engage in positive role modeling. If your children see that observe healthy eating habits and that you stay physically active, they are more likely to eat healthy and be active for the rest of their lives. Lead by example because you are your children’s primary role model.
2. Forge a healthy relationship with food. Children who have easy access to fast food and junk food will find it hard to choose fruits and vegetables. This is especially true when they’re used to eating food items that are high in calories, sugar and transfats. Cook meals for your children using fresh and nutritious ingredients. Eat these meals with them. This will help develop in them healthy eating habits.
3. Cut hidden sugar out of your children's diet. This is not exclusive to reducing the amount of candy and desserts your children eat. Sugar is also hidden in food items which may appear safe to eat in huge amounts or servings. These include bread, canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, margarine, instant mashed potatoes, frozen dinners, low-fat meals, fast food, and ketchup. It would be best to teach your children to check food labels and purchase only food items that are low in sugar. Additionally, explain to them the negative effects of too much sugar consumption to their overall health. This might make them avoid sugar voluntarily.
4. Watch portion sizes. Check to see whether you and your children are use to eating two to three servings of food every meal time. Limit your portion sizes to the size of your fist. Use smaller dishes so that your food portions will look bigger. This can help you and your children to eat less. When you're eating out, downsize your orders to half or medium size.
5. Reduce screen time. Studies show that children who spend a lot of time watching TV, playing video games, or using computers or mobile devices are more likely to overeat and become physically inactive. Limit your children's screen time to two hours. Also, make it a rule for your children to eat food only at the table and not in front of TV or computer.
6. Encourage your children to develop new hobbies. Most children deal with boredom and stress by eating a lot or watching too much TV. Know your children’s interests. Help them develop new hobbies around these interests together with their siblings or friends. This can boost their self-esteem, relieve their stresses and provide a positive outlet.
7. Get involved in your children's lives. You cannot make a huge impact on your children’s health if you’re an absentee parent. Ask them about school every day. Listen to their stories and concerns about school and outside school. Be quick to take action if there is something they need. Be in touch with teachers, classmates and friends. You can learn a lot about your children from them. Finally, spend time with your children playing, reading, cooking or just goofing around. Simple activities can boost their self-confidence in making healthy changes in their lifestyle.
Seek professional help if you need to!
If you have observed all the above-mentioned tips and your child has not reached a healthy weight yet, you may want to consider consulting a doctor about a weight-control program. This is important if your child’s physical and emotional well-being are already at risk because of his or her weight. In connection to this, a doctor may refer you to a dietitian, psychologist, and physiologist for additional guidance on healthy eating, physical exercises and weight control.