For the first time in our history, children are on track to live shorter lives than their parents. Children today are sick more often and have a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke as adults. Here is some expert advice for parents that can help them influence their children to eat healthy and be good role models when it comes to exercise and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
- set high standards for healthy eating
- be a healthy role model to your children
- make eating a fun learning experience
- start the day with a breakfast focused on protein
- teach the importance of exercise at an early age
- serve high-calorie processed foods
- eat meals in the living room or allow your children to eat meals in their bedroom
- fall into the fast food trap
- skip meals
- get discouraged if your child is a picky eater
Even though parents are busier these days, either rushing home from work to take the kids to sports practice or juggling three activities in one night, parents must strive to prepare healthy home-cooked meals and stress the importance of healthy eating on a daily basis.
Parents are role models for their children in many regards. Children watch and imitate what their parents do, from saying please and thank you to choosing a healthy food rather than an un-healthy food. Children look to their parents to set the example. It is up to you as a parent to make health eating at home the norm.
Take your child to the farmer’s market or grocery store and teach them the names of various fruits, vegetables, and meats. Allow your child to choose one item that will be served for dinner and come up with a new recipe together. This not only promotes healthy eating, but family bonding as well.
The whole family benefits from a healthy breakfast with improved concentration and performance in the classroom and the boardroom. Start your day with a couple of eggs and ham, turkey bacon, or low fat sausage. If you are on the go, blend protein powder with plain Greek yogurt, milk, ice, and fruit for a delicious smoothie.
According to the CDC, children should do 60 minutes or more physical activity each day. Helping your child be physically active can prevent weight problems from developing or getting worse. Make physical activity a part of your family’s daily life. Walk the dog after school together or play catch, and make sure your children get off the couch and away from the television or computer.
It is important to not serve high-calorie processed and prepared foods loaded with sodium, sugar, and saturated fats to growing children. Eat foods as close to their natural state as possible, which means foods that come from the ground, from the water, or from an animal.
It is extremely important to eat meals together at the kitchen table, instead of the couch. Eating meals together at a table promotes a healthier lifestyle because it makes you more conscious of what and how much you are eating. And most importantly, avoid the temptation to make your children “clean their plates before leaving the table.”
In today’s society, children are being bombarded with advertisements for processed and fast food. Eating a cheeseburger and fries, pizza, chicken nuggets, and drinking soda has become the norm. When children are exposed to processed and fast foods a majority of the week, they are less likely to eat or want to eat a wholesome meal full of vegetables and fruit.
Some children are picky eaters, which can make mealtime difficult. However, don’t let your child skip a meal. Skipping meals is unhealthy and doesn’t allow you or your children to get all of the nutrients they need of every day. Children especially need to maintain a healthy weight and skipping meals can lessen their appetite and decrease their willingness to try a new food.
Getting your child to try new and healthy foods is not an easy task, but don’t get discouraged in the process. Try making eating a fun, learning experience. Cut foods with a cookie cutter into shapes like dinosaurs and stars. Children will be more likely to try the food if it appeals to their interests. Another idea is to blend the new foods with the old. Mix up your child’s favorite dish by adding something new into it.
Don’t let your child be a statistic in the obesity epidemic. Start putting these tips into practice, creating healthy habits for you and your children, who will then be more likely to do the same for their own children. This will significantly help reduce the trend of childhood obesity for years to come.