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Prevent childhood obesity by making healthier food choices

Prevent childhood obesity by making healthier food choices

Overweight and obese children have a 70 - 80% chance of being overweight their entire lives and are more vulnerable to developing serious health conditions such as type II diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sleep disorders, along with psychological problems such as depression and low-self esteem. Understanding some of the root causes of childhood obesity can assist with making the better health decisions for you and your family. The most common causes of childhood obesity range from genetic factors, lack of physical exercise, unhealthy eating patterns, toxic buildup and in rare cases, there may be an endocrine disorder. Caregivers and parents must stay committed, organized, focused and remember your child’s health, happiness, self-confidence, and future success are all intertwined with leading a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a healthy weight. Changing your child’s eating regime and incorporating exercise means changing your own since you are the child’s role model. Living a healthy lifestyle needs to be a family affair and then everyone will positively benefit.

Turn this health issue into a positive adventure and get everyone involved with planning meals, grocery shopping, cooking and trying a variety of foods as well as exercise regimes. At first, it may be challenging, but once it becomes second nature, you will be so pleased that you committed to your child’s health and yours.


Do

Do clean out your kitchen and substitute every food item with a healthier alternative

Think ‘kitchen makeover’ with everything you would drink, eat, or snack on that is not healthy or serving your child with maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle. Out with the unhealthy foods as you make a clean sweep.

Do plan healthy meals and schedule time to eat meals together as a family unit

Best policy is to plan and prepare meals so you do not run into the common pitfall of grabbing anything when you are hungry. Meal preparation will also teach your child a sense of good time management and focusing on the important stuff like eating healthy. If you are concerned if your child and family are eating meals that are truly healthy and balanced, then consult with a nutritionist.

Do make grocery shopping fun and follow a list with healthy foods

Venture out to the healthier grocery stores, farmer’s market and places that offer organic, fresh, nutritious foods. Allow yourself extra time to shop, going up each aisle and learning which aisles offer the healthiest food choices.

Do educate your child along this healthy makeover journey

Go to the local library or search on YouTube and watch food documentaries that offer a different spin on healthy eating. Some of my favorites are: The Future of Food, Food Matters, Food Inc, Super Size Me and Fast Food Nation. Read labels together so you all learn what is going into your body, how many calories, protein, fat, sugar, carbohydrates, etc. We must all develop a healthy relationship with our food and ask ourselves, ‘What am I getting from eating this food? Am I going to become strong, healthy, energetic or tired, overweight and depressed?” A relationship with food is a two way relationship just like every other relationship - there is a give and take. It is best to teach the give and take among healthy relationships.

Do remember to be prepared to make healthier food choices

If healthy food choices are not available when you are traveling, for instance on a flight, then bring healthy food items with you. If attending baseball games or any sports or cultural entertainment, then bring allowable food into the stadium. When dining out, check the restaurant's menu online to plan accordingly. You never want to be left in a situation where you are starving and have no healthy food options. A little preparation goes a long way.


Don't

Do not keep junk food (snacks) in the house or visit drive-thru

The title of junk food should be clear enough to avoid! Junk food offers little to no nutritional value and often high in fat, sugar, salt and calories. Junk food is addictive. Think nutritious and ask yourself, “What is this junk food going to do for my child, myself and maintaining a healthy weight and body?” Fruit, vegetables and even healthy snacks are available. If you only have the healthy choices to offer your family, then they will be consumed when hungry. Make healthy choices easy to choose by removing the junk food choices.

Most fast food eateries are nothing but a cesspool of junk food. Luckily, there are healthier fast foods opening such as Elevation Burger, Good to Go & Bareburger.

Do not keep soda, juice or other sugary drinks in the daily regime

Many parts of the human body are made of water not soda, juice or anything else, so it is best to stay in balance and drink water. It is shocking to learn the sugar content of these drinks or the chemicals in the diet drinks. Buyer beware!

Do not stress if transition is not as smooth at first

Change takes time, effort and commitment. It takes time to learn, explore, try new foods while incorporating new exercise routines. This is a learning process and staying calm will make it more enjoyable. The process must be learned and not demanded on the child.

Do not use food as a reward or reinforcement for good behavior

We must all develop a healthy relationship with our food. Do not use food as rewards as that will sabotage one’s best efforts for living a healthy lifestyle. Food is not a toy or reward, it is a nutrient for survival and growing a healthy body.

Do not stop the healthy lifestyle once you reach your goal

It cannot be emphasized enough how important it is for healthy eating and exercising to become a daily regime forever. The goal is not short term, it is a goal that is long term for your entire life!


Summary
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Childhood obesity can be prevented and even reversed if the family is willing to commit to living a healthy lifestyle incorporating eating nutritious foods as well as exercising. It is a win-win situation for everyone as the mind, body and spirit will all benefit from this lifestyle. Educating the child on the importance of healthy living will empower them with the knowledge to make the best decisions for their health as they grew into adulthood.


More expert advice about Children's Health

Photo Credits: © Monika Olszewska - Fotolia.com; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com

Nancy GubertiNutritionist, GFCF, Health Coach

Nancy Guberti is a nutritionist, Defeat Autism Now practitioner, Gluten-Free Casein-Free (GFCF) diet counselor, healthy lifestyle coach and functional medicine metabolic specialist. Nancy practices a biomedical and nutritional approach to healin...

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