They are the role model for their children that can educate their children about healthy eating and exercise habits early in life to avoid health issues.
“Children who are overweight are more likely to develop diabetes, experience feelings of isolation and struggle with self-esteem,” said Dr. Asma Khan who is a pediatrician at OSF HealthCare in Rockland, Ill.
Khan provided some advice for helping children get an early start to a healthy lifestyle. In the beginning, you should educate them on signals of hunger and fullness. It’s very easy to snack out of sadness or boredom however, it’s important to know when you’re full or hungry.
“Starting healthy habits early is the best way to maintain a healthy weight,” Khan declared in an OSF news release.
Use plates that are child-sized to help determine the amount of food your child will need for a particular meal. Half of the plate should be packed with vegetables and fruits. The remaining portion should contain an energy-rich protein like chicken, fish or beans, as well as an entire grain. This may include oatmeal bread, whole wheat bread, as well as brown rice.
Select healthy snacks such as carrots and hummus, and apple or kale chip. Avoid snacks that are loaded with sugar and fat such as juice, soda chips, sports drinks sweets, cookies, and cakes, except for holidays or special occasions.
“I also tell parents to limit the junk food that comes into the house. There isn’t as much temptation to eat junk food if it’s not in the house,” Khan added.
Make sure your children are active every day to not only help manage their weight. It is also a good idea to build bones, lower blood pressure, and ease anxiety. Even short bursts of exercise for 15 minutes can will make a difference she added. It could be dancing to music or play tag around the backyard.
“Aim for at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day,” Khan stated.
Reduce screen time to 2 hours a day. This is the recommended practice of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Children shouldn’t be allowed to have smartphones or any other devices with them in their bedrooms at late at night, Khan added.
Engage your children with making healthy choices for their lifestyles, and make the choice of the one or two modifications to make first.
Make them feel even more at ease by taking them to the grocery store with you , and let them select the new veggies or fruits they’d like to test. Encourage them to help prepare dinner.
Be a role model for healthy behaviors and live an active life and your kids will be able to follow your example. This might include biking, walking or swimming with your children.
“Make lifestyle changes as family. As an adult, you cannot think that your kids will change if you’re unwilling to take healthy steps,” Khan noted.