- Kids Health
Save Your Children From Obestity
Yesterdays children were slim, always active, and always hungry. Today, an alarming number of children are well beyond what used to be referred to as 'pleasantly plump'. Many are, to put it bluntly, fat, alarmingly fat, grossly fat. This country is experiencing an epidemic, not one caused by germs or bacteria, but one caused by over-eating, eating calorie rich, nutrition poor foods, and a sedentary lifestyle, previously experienced only by the very elderly, or the ill.
This epidemic has reached such proportions that this generation of adults, will be the first generation of adults ever to have a longer lifespan, than will their children. That is a alarming.
Obesity contributes to heart attack, diabetes, and strokes. Excess weight damages and deforms joints. Being obese causes misery, ridicule, and early death.
It is never too late to help obese children, but it is so much easier to simply prevent the problem from ever occurring. There are many thing you can do to see that your children are not part of the obese generation. Here are a few.
1. Teaching by example is the best type of teaching. Young children respect and admire their parents, so if the parents eat well, and remain active, their children will follow suit.
For parents who are heavier than they should be, the road is a bit harder. You will have to change your own eating habits and include exercise in your daily routine, if you hope to influence the future of your children.
Weight is a big issue for teenagers, who unfortunately often listen to their friends rather than their parents. If you have a teen who is struggling with their weight, discuss the problem frankly. Enlist the help of a dietitian. Encourage them to enroll in an exercise program. Support them, but never preach to them. They are suffering enough.
2. Never make eating an issue with small children. Left to their own devices, children will eat when they are hungry. If they indicate that they have had enough, remove their plates, but do not give any more food until the next meal. Be matter-of-fact about the process. No lecturing. Consider giving them smaller portions.
Never give food as a reward, or withhold it as a punishment. Food is meant to provide nourishment. It has nothing to do with cleaning rooms, behaving in the mall, or winning ball games.
3. I know I am rowing into the wind here, but I am not a big believer in snacks, certainly not if the child is a poor eater, and certainly not if they are wailing because they didn't want their lunch and are now 'starving'. If you do give snacks, make them healthy ones, such as vegetable sticks, and fruit. If a child is thirsty, give them water. Water is vital for the functioning of all body organs. It quenches thirst better than anything else, and it has no harmful ingredients. Avoid sugared drinks, as well as fruit drinks. The whole fruit is more nourishing, and provides needed fiber.
4. Only keep healthy foods in your home. Celebrations may be the exception to this rule, but as a general rule, your pantry should contain no sugary, fatty, or nutrient-negative foods. Most people who bring up their children on nutritious foods find that these children do not crave junk to the extent that their chunkier friends might.
5. Try to arrange outings only after a meal. This way, there will be less temptation to fill up on junk food. If you have a nice family meal on Halloween, including a Halloween dessert, before the trick-or-treating begins, the pillow case of junk will take second place to the active fun of the evening.
Try to make holidays and celebrations more about family activities than about food. Do something, or go somewhere memorable together.
6. Try to get all the family involved in meal preparation. Talk about where foods come from, when you first picked fresh strawberries, or caught a fish. Make whole-wheat bread together. Once you know how to knead bread, you can add literally anything, fruits, nuts, or vegetables. Start a vegetable garden. Food is a big part of life, and an enjoyable part, but it should be a healthy part as well.
7. Since obesity tends to go hand in hand with inactivity, start to be active with your children, when they are very young. Walk and play with them every day. Teach them to swim when they are just toddlers. Swimming is an activity, that they can enjoy all their lives. When they are older, take part in active games and sports that they enjoy. Some sports activities are ridiculously expensive, but you can always walk, bike, play kick ball, and go on hikes together. Plan active holidays. Help your children to be proficient in the sports activities of their choice.
If you raise your children to be well-nourished, and active, you will be giving them the gift of long and healthy lives.