It’s vital for children to maintain a healthy weight. One of the most effective ways to guarantee this is a balanced diet. Balance is particularly important when it comes to the number of calories your child consumes and what kinds of foods they eat. As a parent or guardian, it’s your role to ensure you balance the calories your children drink and eat with those they use during normal growth and physical activity.
Teaching your kids healthy eating practices, including how to reduce empty calories like soda and candy, can make all the difference between your kid living healthily or struggling with their weight. Obese and overweight kids and teens alike need to learn how to eat a healthy, balanced diet that will prevent unhealthy weight gain while nourishing their bodies and promoting normal development and growth.
For most kids, being overweight is a result of unhealthy eating patterns, including excessive intake of calories, coupled with little to no physical activity. These habits can form early in childhood, making it necessary for parents to teach their children healthy practices from an early age.
This article suggests some lifestyle changes that can promote your kid’s health well into adulthood. Make sure to focus on improving your kid’s health, not simply reducing their weight. Unhealthy, restrictive relationships with food can result from too much focus on changing your child’s appearance rather than simply helping them live a healthier lifestyle. Your goal is to help your kid be healthy, happy, and energetic! Before putting your kid on a weight-reduction diet, be sure to speak with their pediatrician to ensure it’s being done in a healthy way.
Balance: Helping your kids establishing healthy eating habits
Introduce healthy eating habits into your kid’s regular diet. You can start this by offering nutritious snacks and meals with an appropriate number of calories. You can also help your kids establish healthy eating habits by making their favorite meals healthier, as well as curbing any unhealthier temptations. Some ways to do this include:
1. Promote healthy eating habits.
Small alterations to the usual diet can ensure your kids adapt and stick to a healthy dietary routine. You can accomplish this by incorporating the following simple changes:
- Include plenty of fruits, whole-grain products, and vegetables
- Offer low-fat milk, or milk alternatives such as almond, soy, or oat milk
- For protein, serve lean meats or protein-packed vegetables like fish, poultry, beans, and lentils
- Serve appropriately sized portions, and set an example with your own portion sizes
- Hydrate: encourage your entire family to drink large quantities of water
- Go easy on the sugar, sweetened beverages, saturated fat, and sodium
2. Make their favorite dishes healthier
Making changes to eating habits doesn’t necessarily mean cutting out your kids’ favorite foods. You can tinker with some of these recipes to make them healthier. Add in vegetables, or use fortified ingredients like pasta made with extra vitamins and vegetables. Blend cooked cauliflower into mashed potatoes. You can also introduce several new healthy and delicious dishes which can, in turn, become favorites.
3. Reduce any calorie-rich temptations
There’s nothing wrong with treats – they’re a great way to teach your kid how to indulge without overdoing it. While moderation is crucial, we have to be sure not deprive our kids of occasional treats. If we do restrict them too much, it can inspire them to overeat rather than practice healthy regulation. You can start out by reducing high-sugar, high-fat, and high-salt snacks. This can help your kids learn healthier eating habits.
Here’s some easy, tasty snack options with low fat and sugar to offer your kids
- Apple, medium size
- Blueberries, 1 cup
- Banana, medium size
- Carrots, 1 cup
- Grapes, 1 cup
- Bell peppers, or broccoli, with hummus (2 tbsp.)
4. Teach your kids why exercise is essential
Our bodies aren’t made to sit still all day, but that’s what many of us do at work or school. As a result, it’s important to make sure you and your kids stay physically active. Physical exercise has a multitude of health benefits, and it’s crucial that your kids know this too. Some of the benefits of exercise include
- Strengthening bones
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Lowering blood pressure
- Boosting self-esteem
- Promoting a healthy weight
5. Help your kids stay active:
Physical activity is so important. Kids and teens alike need to practice regular moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week, or on a daily basis if possible. You can introduce various routines to inspire them to stay active. Include exercise in your own daily routine and encourage your kids to participate. You can also inspire your kids to sign up for organized sports or physical activities, like swimming or soccer. Some common, effective moderate-intensity physical activities include:
- Jumping rope
- Brisk walking
- Playing soccer
- Playing tag
6. Minimize sedentary time
After a long day at school or playing outside, it makes sense for your kids to want to spend some time relaxing. While some quiet time doing homework, reading, or resting after a busy day is fine, what you need to discourage and ultimately limit is unnecessarily long idle time. Minimizing sedentary time helps boost physical activity. You can reduce screen time (video games, TV, internet) to only a few hours per day. According to the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP), children two and younger should not watch TV or have screen time, as this is a crucial time for physical and mental development.
Encourage your kids to choose fun physical activities that they can do with family, friends, and alone to help them stay active.
Why it’s important to maintain a healthy body weight
The importance of attaining and marinating a healthy body weight can’t be understated. While it may seem easy in theory, it can be quite a challenging task. Focusing on small, but long-term changes to diet and exercise habits is a more effective strategy in comparison to drastic but unsustainable changes that only last for a short while, such as strict diets and exercise routines.
When helping obese or overweight kids, you should focus on ensuring that they maintain an appropriate body weight for their age, height, and individual needs. Weight gain should generally be proportional to height increase.
Success predicting factors:
- A healthy diet that kids and parents both participate in
- Strong social support of healthy habits, especially from those close to the child
- Strong support for physical activity and participation of the whole family
While adopting new lifestyle changes can be exciting and challenging at first, it’s worth noting that these changes only serve their purpose if you and your kids stick to them. As such, it’s important to emphasize the need for the entire family to keep up with these lifestyle changes. The best way to help your kid achieve a healthy weight is by doing it gradually.
Parents and guardians alike can protect their kids from early childhood obesity by offering healthy snacks and meals, encouraging everyday physical activity, and teaching them about nutrition. Healthy snacks and meals afford growing bodies the right type of nutrition while also promoting healthy attitudes and eating habits. By eating healthy, it’s easy to manage weight and improve overall health.
As for increased physical activity, it’s essential for health. Along with reducing many health risks, it helps regulate weight. It’s essential for parents to teach their kids about nutrition and healthy eating habits. With nutritional education, kids can know what proper nutrition is, its importance, and adopt healthy habits for a lifetime.