The habits you form in your earliest days become the blueprints for your future—thus it is imperative that you give your children the best opportunities at creating a happy and healthy adult lifestyle. With the climbing statistics in childhood obesity, type II diabetes, and a plethora of related healthcare concerns, parents should follow these top ten tips to help keep children at a healthy weight!
1. Start with the Good Stuff
As an infant/toddler, your child’s food intake is completely based on what you and your spouse choose to feed him or her. It is important that you make healthy and informed decisions that include all food groups stressing the inclusion of a variety of vegetables and fruits. Children develop preferred tastes early on based on exposure to different foods. If you are creative and willing to spend the time doing it, homemade baby food can be fast, affordable, and nutritious. Choose different flavous and textures and don’t give up if your child doesn’t respond pleasantly after the first or second tasting, it can take upwards of 10 exposures to a new food to become accustomed and interesting to the system. Try to limit (or exclude) the exposure to sugars and refined grains. The first few years establish the way they will continue to try new foods into adulthood so be adventurous! For an age appropriate feeding guide, check out: Babycenter.com.
2. Teach Kids to Cook!
It has been proved that children who help in the preparation of meals and snacks are more empowered and knowledgeable in making smarter decisions for food choices later down the road. A UK study found 22% of university freshman admitted to never even shopping for food alone let alone cooking. 14% stated they couldn’t boil an egg and 11% stated they couldn’t cook a thing at all. This results in poor choices such as processed, heat and ready food sources full of empty calories and high starch and sugar contents. By engaging even your preschoolers to help you mix, pour, or season foods they will be more likely to prepare fresh foods and be adventurous with recipes!
Remember the food period and recommended daily food guide? If not click here for a refresher!
3. Choose Smart Beverages
Stress the importance of water in your family home! Your children can only make decisions from what is kept in the fridge and on the shelves so have wise options that your kids can pick between. If water is what is available and Mom and Dad choose that as the beverage of choice, chances are the kids will too! Avoid buying sugary soda and even juices that are chalked full of unnecessary calories. When choosing juices, select natural fruit juices not powdered sugar! If the kids are craving something new, make smoothies from real fruit or cut your juice with 50% water to reduce sugars.
4. Be a Role Model and Lead by Example!
Remember that your little ones are constantly looking at you and your behaviors. You should try to lead by example when it comes to both diet and exercise. The old motto “practice what you preach” comes in to play as you can’t expect your five year old to finish her peas if you won’t even put green vegetables on your own plate! Make sure as the parents you are eating well balanced meals without overdoing portion size or succumbing to quick meals of no nutritional value. The same goes with exercise! Show your kids it’s fun to be active and start engaging in outdoor activity from early on!
5. Keep Active as a Family:
Studies show that families that have always led an active lifestyle are more likely to produce offspring that will continue such habits into adulthood. Whether it’s walks to the park, camping, skiing or watersports, find what you enjoy as a family and it will seem less like exercise and more like fun!
6. Partake in community events
Most communities advertise local events for little or no cost in hopes of bringing the community out and about. Check your local listings for events such as fun runs, regattas, free skates or swims (often put on by Tim Horton’s) This will be a fun way to get active and engage with other kids or groups you would otherwise not be exposed to! Variety will help them find what they are interested in so they will…
7. Encourage outdoor play!
Remind kids about the value of good old fashioned fun! A recent study reveals kids today play outside only half as much as their parents did! The same study shows that parents admitted to relying on the school system for outdoor play and physical activity as they weren’t getting it at home! So—Limit time spent watching television, playing on the computer or video game systems. Instead, encourage outdoor activities such as tag, hide and seek, and make believe! Activity versus sedentary leisure time keeps metabolism and muscles intact along with the encouragement of creativity and imagination!
8. Find their passion!
Exposure to different sports, outdoor activities, and hobbies will lead to developing interests outside of the house and will get their muscles pumping! If a child finds a sport they are interested in early on, chances are they will foster that interest and continue to partake at high school and even collegiate levels! When you love something, the hard work seems less cumbersome and the training regime helps shape discipline, healthy eating habits, and exercise ethics.
9.Discuss healthy body image
From the time the kids are young, discuss the importance of healthy eating, daily exercise, and the idea of a healthy body (image). Opening discuss body issues, eating disorders, and the different body types out there so that as they grow and change they know what habits are to be nurtured and what should be negated. Be balanced in your delivery of information, remind them about moderation, and that healthy precedes appearance. For help discussing these topics with your children, look at the resource kidshealth.org
10.Learn from a trained professional!
If you don’t think you are ready to teach your kids about nutrition, muscle tone, balance, and cardiovascular activity—find someone who can! Nutritionists ,Naturopaths, Physiotherapists, Family Doctors and Chiropractors often have programs in play to help assess and advise you on the development of your child! Look into who is available in your community, for example did you know that PhysioMed offers natural weight-loss programs without fancy meal plans, crash dieting, or vast financial commitment
Gina Brewton has been in the home improvement industry for the past 7 years. She is presently working at a residential cleaning company in Toronto. She is also a part time interior designer. She has her interests in cooking, photography, craft and painting. Follow her on twitter@ginabrewton.