Taking steps at home to get your children into healthy eating and lifestyle habits will help them in numerous ways.
Overweight and obese children will develop many health problems that will affect their emotional, mental and physical health.
Through physical activities and balancing calories, overweight and obese children should be able to reduce weight and maintain that while developing and growing. If any parent or guardian is worried about their child’s diet, they should discuss these concerns with their doctor.
What can happen? These children may have higher risks of contracting chronic medical conditions such as:
- Bone/joint problems
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Sleep apnea
- Type 2 diabetes
Also, children are often made fun of because of their weight. They may experience teasing and bullying from their peers on the playground, which can lead to the development of depression, isolation and anxiety, along with a lack of self-confidence. This may cause them to stop socializing or being active, and to eat more — which can result in a vicious cycle.
If you’re worried about your child’s health and want to encourage them to be healthier, there are plenty of tips you can follow.
Keeping your child active will burn calories and decrease their body fat. Aerobics, cardio and strength exercises are not only good for the body, but for the mind as well. Joining groups such as gymnastics, swimming or self-defense can help improve your child’s health under the watchful eye of a qualified instructor.
Involve your child in grocery shopping when possible. Teaching them about the different nutritional values of foods should encourage them to make healthy choices in the future. At home, children should help adults prepare meals in the kitchen so they can get accustomed to trying new foods.
Going outside with your kids and participating in family activities will burn calories as well as encourage your family to bond together. Bike riding, hiking or walking around the park are fun activities and great ways to keep the kids active. Even simple games like tag and jumping rope can be fun and effective at burning calories. Aim for 30-60 minutes of physical activity per day, if possible.
If children see adults eating healthy and participating in physical activities, it may encourage them to do the same. Educating children about activities, exercise and nutrition from an early age is a great way to put them on the right track toward having healthier habits later in life.
Offer your kids food packed with vitamins that are both low in fat and in unhealthy calories. Clean eating from a young age will help your child develop eating habits that are healthy and can reduce the craving for sugary snacks.
Fruits and vegetables are a great start. Pureeing fruits and vegetables for babies can be beneficial. Mixing them with other fruits and vegetables can provide more than the minimum amount of vitamins and minerals they need. Combining vegetables with whole-wheat pasta, brown rice and other healthy options can also help.
Limiting or cutting out sugary beverages that are high in fat and calories will also benefit your child. Encouraging them to drink more water will not only keep them hydrated, but also help them feel a little fuller and less inclined to eat large portions at meal times. Adding slices of natural fruit or vegetables like cucumber, lemon or lime is a refreshing way to change the ordinary taste of plain water.
Protein should come in the form of beans, lentils, poultry, fish and other lean meats. Homemade soups are a good source of protein, especially when adding beans, lentils or chicken. Getting your child involved in preparing these meals will not only teach them a life skill, but also how different types of healthy foods combine to provide nutritional value.
Don’t forget to teach and show your child that physical activity can give them great benefits like reducing stress and anxiety levels, decreasing blood pressure, strengthening their bones, boosting self-esteem and managing weight. Overweight and obese children should engage in physical activity for 30-60 minutes per day. Encourage them to join you and reduce the time they spend on the game consoles, surfing the Internet and watching TV.
Mike Gartz is a personal trainer who owns I Hate My Trainer at 117 E. Reynolds St. Plant City.