Recent studies have shown that there is an increasing trend in the number of overweight and obese children. In fact, there are estimates that say up to 15% of the children in UK fit this description. It is a sad fact, to say the least. Some experts go so far as to say that because of the children’s bad eating habits and lack of exercise, more and more parents will end up burying their own
So, what can the parents do about this? Here are eight thoughts to ponder and hopefully take action on.
Obesity and excess weight gain are usually a direct result of poor eating habits and lack of exercise. The key here is to provide your child with a balanced healthy diet and encourage physical activities.
Realize that not all overweight issues are hereditary. Many experts say that in reality, only a small percent of obesity and weight gain can be attributed to heredity….. So don’t automatically blame your genes!
Children often mimic the bad eating habits and inactivity of their parents. Therefore set an example by eating balanced meals and exercising regularly. When the children are very young, they will want to eat what is on your plate. What better time is there to start some good eating habits yourselves?
Encourage your children to walk more and take part in physical activities. Parents do not need to continually drive their children everywhere when they can easily walk there. Also, monitor the time they spend in front of the television. How does this compare to the time they spend outside playing or participating in some physical activities?
Minimize fast food, sweets, and convenience meals. They are all high in calories and full of salt and sugar. They are cheap, available and targeted to our children through television, so beware.
Luckily it is easier to change a child’s eating habits than it is to change an adults. If you are concerned about your child’s weight you should encourage them to eat a variety of fresh foods that are nutritious. You should also replace foods that are high in fat such as cookies, chocolate, and cakes with alternatives that are healthy such as fresh fruit, wholegrain bread or crackers.
The way you cook (and shop) also has an effect on their (and your) weight. That is, grill or bake foods rather than fry them. Watch the types of carbohydrates you eat. Buy fresh fruit juices rather than sodas. Start their day with low sugar cereals. Minimize the amount of sweets (chocolate) in the house and substitute, instead, things like dried fruits, nuts and granola.
Develop good eating habits. To prevent children grazing all day, provide them with regular meals at set, routine times. Don’t allow your child to each while they do homework or watch television.
Use mealtimes as an opportunity for the family to sit together at a table. Encourage your child to listen to what their stomachs tell them so they learn to only eat when they are hungry as opposed to eating out of habit.
Teach your child to chew their food thoroughly and eat at a slower pace so they savor and appreciate their food.
Ask your child to assist you when you are preparing food so they are more interested and aware of what they are eating. A child who has helped prepare a healthy meal is more likely to eat it. Encourage older children to keep a food diary to identify the times they are likely to snack.
There you have eight points on how the parent can influence the eating habits of their children, which in turn, should positively affect the child’s weight gain.