You never think it will happen to you until it does. Overweight in children is increasing. About 33% of America’s young people are obese. Thanks to a largely sedentary lifestyle, poor eating habits and lots of preservatives in our food, this number can only go up … and up … and up. Obesity in children is a gateway to being an obese adult with all diabetes, blood pressure problems and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease that comes with it. Parents could stop it if they just wanted to take the time to get their kids moving and learn about healthy eating for the kids.
Eat the right foods
Since children are not usually the ones at the grocery store, the responsibility of enforcing healthy food for the children falls to you, the parent. It’s a little scary when you think about it. From the day they are born, you are literally responsible for every aspect of their lives, including developing eating habits that determine whether they want to be healthy, happy adults, or struggle with obesity-related health issues for the rest of their lives.
It is easy to dismiss the threat that your child may develop a chronic condition related to obesity, but pediatricians say they treat more obesity-related problems in children than ever before. If we don’t want to stop it, who does?
The most important step in healthy eating for children is to fill with fruits and vegetables and store them where your children can get to them. Most children do not get anywhere near their recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables. Experts recommend storing sliced veggies and fruits in snack-store containers in the fridge, so that when kids get munchies, it is easy for them to find something that is healthy instead of something that is not. (Low-fat yogurt, whole-grain biscuits and cheese, and peanut butter and celery also make good, ready-made snacks.)
Keep your meat lean and avoid deep-fried food as often as possible. The kids may be complaining about the absence of chicken nuggets for a while, but it’s better for them in the long run! Choose whole grain breads and grains for plenty of fiber to keep your digestive system healthy and their weight under control. Yes, it’s true, fiber can help you keep your children’s weight under control. As it is bulky, kids feel fuller longer and wait longer before they go looking for junk food!
Developing the right habits
Healthy eating for children is not just about eating the right things. Eating too much of the right stuff can still cause calorie overload. Developing the right habits is also important. When you force your children to finish their food before giving them desert, you teach them to override that feeling of being drunk so they can have a treat. The need to clean their plate can lead to overeating later in life.
I’m not suggesting that you be critical of handing out junk food, but let them decide when they’re done. If your kids get the habit of stopping when they are full now, they will keep that habit as they grow into healthy adults.