Friday, July 16, 2010

Ideas to Help Children Maintain a Healthy Weight

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You've probably read about it or heard about it on the news, reports state that childhood obesity has continued to climb over the last two decades. Type 2 diabetes, which has always been an adult disease has now also become prevalent in childhood. No longer can Type 2 diabetes be called Adult Onset Diabetes. Children are experiencing heart disease caused by high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Asthma and sleep apnea are on the rise. Children are getting more and more unhealthy, it is time for us to take action. As parents, it is our responsibility to offer our children as healthy a lifestyle as we can.

What can you do?

Help your child maintain a healthy weight by balancing the calories your child consumes with the calories that your child uses through physical activity and normal growth. Children and teens should not be placed on a weight reduction diet without the consultation of a health care provider.

Developing healthy eating habits

This is easiest done by example. If you are eating fast food several times a week then so is your child.
  • Look for ways to make your favorite meals a little healthier.
  • Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. It is not enough to just buy them, have them cleaned and ready to make it the easiest thing to grab when food is needed.
  • Include low-fat or non-fat milk and dairy products in your home. Reports state that the only people that should be consuming full fat milk products are children under the age of two. They need the additional fat but anyone over two does not need the additional fat.
  • Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils, and beans for protein. Prepare these foods with little to know additional oil. It does no good to by healthy fish and then batter and fry it to serve your family.
  • Serve reasonably sized portions. Do not use restaurants as an example of a healthy portion of food. Most restaurant portions are enough to feed two to three adults.
  • Encourage your family to drink lots of water. If they do not like "plain" water, slice up some fresh fruit to serve in it. Water is delicious with lemons, limes, oranges and a variety of other fruits.
  • Limit sugar sweetened beverages, this includes sodas and juices.
  • Limit the consumption of sugar and saturated fats.
  • Remove calorie rich or salty temptations from your home. Everything can be enjoyed in moderation but these items should be an occasional treat not the norm.
You do not have to buy 100 calorie packs of snacks. These are all heavily processed and not very filling so you usually will eat several of them when hunger strikes, instead give these 100 calories or less snacks a try:
  • 1 medium sized apple
  • 1 medium sized banana
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup grapes (also delicious served frozen)
  • 1 cup carrots, broccoli or bell peppers with 2 tbsp hummus
  • 10 cashews or 10 almonds
  • 3 ounces low-fat cottage cheese and 3 whole-wheat crackers
  • 2 large graham cracker squares with 1 teaspoon peanut butter
  • 1 small baked potato with 1/2 cup salsa and 2 tablespoons of fat-free sour cream
Help Kids Stay Active

Children and teens should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity most days of the week, preferably every day. Some examples of moderate intensity physical activities:
  • Brisk Walking - buy pedometers for the family and challenge one another to see who takes the most steps
  • Playing tag in the back yard
  • Jumping rope
  • Playing soccer
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Skating
  • Bicycling
  • Relay races in the back yard

As you can see, no special equipment is needed other than your determination. Many reports are talking about how parents will soon be outliving their children if the childhood obesity epidemic continues. This is the time for you to stand up and take control. Lead your children to a healthier life and join them on the journey. No one should be sitting on the sidelines watching life play out in front of them. Get out there!

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