75% of all children suffer from childhood obesity. 50% of these children will NOT outlive their parents.
The question now is, how can we teach our children healthy eating habits? Perhaps the bigger question is or task if how can we correct the eating habits of young children to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic in America?
Children are tempted by McDonalds commercials, vending machines with soda and candy bars, and let us not forget about the birthday parties every weekend. Hey, I get it, sugary, fatty food taste good! I mean, who doesn’t like a freshly baked tray of chocolate chip cookies? I know I do, but the secret is moderation and portion control.
Sugar, whether from a candy bar or an apple, is the body’s primary fuel source. It fuels our muscles, brain, as well as our immune system. Fat tastes delicious and is necessary for adequate stores of Vitamins A, D, E & K. It is an essential nutrient for healthy organs, hair, skin, nails, hormones and reproductive function. No wonder we love candy bars and pizza so much. Sugars and fats are necessary for survival! Its in our DNA.So, how do we help our children choose the right essential nutrients to help fight childhood obesity? Or how can we help a pudgy child lose those unwanted pounds?
Parents – we need to be parents, not enablers. While my husband and I do love chocolate chip cookies, we also make sure our daughter sees us eating fruits and vegetables.
This is important because as parents, we are the role models for our children. Our children are sponges when it comes to habits. They soak up our language, behaviors, and social interactions. This is why it is important for us to be examples of health. If our children need to ‘eat clean’ and get the right amount of exercise, the same goes for us.
Activity is a must. Being a part of a team sport at school or local recreational center creates confidence, friendships, and a healthy heart. As a family, play dates are great for making memories, but lets make sure those activities aren’t always centered around food.
Put different types of food on the table. Shake up our children’s palettes. What we eat, our kids should eat. There are no chicken nuggets for them and chicken breast for you. Kids need whole and healthy foods because their body is developing. What is fueling their gas tank?
The ‘Rule of Three.’ Is your child a picky eater? Well, it takes three tries before you we develop a ‘like’ for new food. Some say, if our children are hungry enough, they’ll eat most anything. They may squeal when you don’t buy their favorite junk food at the grocery store, but there are plenty of great options for us to consider when shopping. Some ideas are: baked chips & salsa or a low-fat cheese dip, apple or banana & PB, low-fat ice cream sandwiches, strawberries and low fat cream cheese, turkey slices and banana ( its good, salty & sweet!). Get creative. And don’t give up! Remember the rule of three.
The Chemistry of Nutrition. A little bit of this and a little bit of that is the secret to nutrition. Design your children’s plates with 1/2 veggies or low sugar fruits, 1/4 healthy starch such as brown rice or sweet potatoes, and 1/4 lean protein such as chicken, fish, or extra lean beef. Add in some healthy fats for cooking or a touch of flavor; olive oil, dressings, avocado, parmesan cheese. This formula balances blood sugar which is the key to an alert mind, long term energy, and a lean body.
Remember, if you need more advice about fighting childhood obesity, just send me an email and I will help!