Child obesity is a growing problem in the United States. In fact, one in four children between the ages of two and five is overweight. The key to fighting childhood obesity is a healthy diet and exercise. It is so important to establish healthy habits at a young age so that children can build a foundation for good health and carry that mindset with them throughout life. The following are some ways you can help influence your children’s decisions when it comes to healthy habits.
Have healthy options readily available
If your house has plenty of healthy food options readily available, such as fruits and vegetables, your children will learn to reach for them rather than processed snacks when they’re hungry. Keep fruits and veggies handy and present them as convenient and attractive easily accessible bite-size treats. This will also save space in your refrigerator when it comes to larger (and messier) fruits like watermelon. Cut cheese into bite-size morsels and store them and other portioned sized snacks in ziplocks or Tupperware to allow the healthy options to be grabbed on the go. Opt for whole grains over processed grains and avoid processed or junk foods altogether.
Eat family meals together
The family that eats together stays healthy together. When everyone is on the run and “grabbing meals,” that is when unhealthy choices are made. By sitting together as a family and breaking bread, it forces everyone to slow down and make better choices. It also sets a standard times to avoid unnecessary noshing. Be sure to leave cell phones on the counter (if that’s possible!).
Cook with your children
Involving children in the kitchen promotes healthier choices by influencing their food preferences and behaviors. By getting children involved with food prep and cooking, they can see what ingredients are going into their foods. Be sure to take them shopping to learn how to read nutrition labels and compare prices to get the most healthy bang for the buck.
Eat out less
Meals at restaurants tend to be more calorie-dense and less nutritious. While it’s fine to indulge every once in a while, choosing to cook and eat meals at home is a much healthier choice and will teach children that the best meal they can eat is one they make themselves at home. Plus, eating out can add up price wise.
Encourage physical activity
Encouraging children to play outside more promotes physical activity, as does walking or riding a bicycle. When possible, opt for stairs over the elevator and taking walks after dinner.
Water over Soda and Juice
Kids love soda and fruit juices, but both can be loaded with sugar. And if you opt for sugar-free or diet drinks, know that sugar is substituted with artificial sweeteners. When seeking out a fun drink, consider water with a splash of fruit flavoring. Of late, many families are investing in carbonation machines like Sodastream, that allows you to carbonate your own tap water and add optional flavorings such as lemon or cranberry juice for a splash of flavor. Avoiding soda and too much fruit juice can cut back on unnecessary calories and carbs, and is also better for your family’s teeth.
Kids mimic what parents do, so reaching for a glass of ice cold milk can be a very positive behavior that can last a lifetime.
Pediatric Nutritionists: Your Partner in Family Health
A board-certified pediatric nutritionist specializes in working with you and your children to ensure their proper nutrition and to establish a healthy lifestyle. Pediatric nutritionists understand the challenges parents face when it comes to providing proper nutrition for their children both at home and at school. An experienced nutritionist will advise you and your children on healthy eating habits. In addition, if your child has any health conditions such as juvenile diabetes or an eating disorder, they can help adapt daily treatment regimens for that as well.
The board-certified pediatric nutritionist at Children’s Health Care in Massachusetts is dedicated to working with you and your children to ensure their proper nutrition and well-being. At CHC, we are child-centered and family-focused. Our trusted providers and friendly staff will help your child achieve complete mind and body well-being as they develop into healthy adults. To make an appointment, call your preferred pediatric office in Newburyport or Haverhill.