In the previous blog I outlined some culprits for the increasing levels of obesity that our children and ourselves the adults are currently experiencing in our modern world.
Now that we are aware that there are many environmental factors which contribute to obesity, parents must realise that they have the primary role and the power to stop and reverse the effects of this scourge enveloping our children.
Parents Time To Listen Up…
Your child is depending on you to make sensible and correct dietary choices for them to enable them to live happy, healthy lives and to reach their potential.
1. Be a good role model
Parents need to show a good example to their children regarding their food choices and their exercise habits. They should try to eat healthy and get regular exercise. They should encourage the consumption of healthy nutritious food on a regular basis and educate them on what type of foods are good or bad for us.
2. Provide healthy food with suitable portion size
Children should have access to unprocessed, nutritious foods especially in the home environment. Fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy (if tolerated) nuts and seeds should be the staples of each meal. These meals should be smaller than regular adult portions. Unfortunately in this modern world, processed and convenience food is everywhere. It is best to eat less calorie dense/nutrient rich food as much as possible.
3. Home Environment
- Eat meals as a family
- Involve children in the preparation of food
- Healthy snacks should be available, fruit, nuts as opposed to junk food
Children need to get enough sleep to ensure they grow, regenerate and recover from the day. Lack of sleep has been linked with increased levels of obesity. Children between the ages of 5 to 12 need to get around 11 or 12 hours sleep every night.
Water is the substance of life. Children should not be drinking their calories. Fizzy drinks, sports drinks, fruit juices are all full of sugar and very harmful when consumed in large doses over a long period of time. Stick to the water.
6. Physical Activity
Children should be engaged in 60 minutes of exercise every day. This can be easy to attain for people who play sports but for others it can be difficult. Walking the dog, helping out with household chores, playing with friends, cycling and other games can all be ways to get some activity in the day.
7. Reduce Screen Time
Sitting is the new smoking. Sitting for hours on end at home watching television screens and computers can create bad habits that sap energy and draw life from our bodies. Get outside for some fresh air and some sunlight and you will do your body the world of good.
8. What did your parents eat!?
What you eat before and during pregnancy can have a huge influence on the health of the baby. Most parents are aware that drinking alcohol and smoking whilst pregnant is harmful so it is frowned upon to do so. Eating a diet full of sugar and junk food can also be terrible for child development, yet the notion that ‘I am eating for two’ prevails and some mothers eat junk liberally. This over consumption of calories by a mother during pregnancy is closely linked to a higher probability of obesity for the child later in life.
9. Treats should be treats
The world would be a boring place if we could not indulge and enjoy some of our favourite foods from time to time. Unfortunately when treats become the norm, then we have a problem. Children who are given fizzy drinks, chocolate and crap on a regular basis think it is normal to eat this crap every day and they don’t understand the notion of a ‘treat’. Eat healthy, nutritious foods most of the time and leave the treats at weekends or special occasions.
10. Focus on health not weight
Eat to be healthy, don’t eat with calories in mind. Food should be something that the family should prepare together and eat together. The love of good healthy food is a gift that should be nurtured and harnessed. If we eat the right foods, we will never have to worry about counting calories because our body will feel full and our hunger will be regulated. Food should be something that we look forward to eating and not just a mechanism of alleviating hunger.