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