America has a child obesity crisis
Kids and healthy eating…many would call this an oxymoron. Sadly, America’s children are becoming even more obese statistically. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is showing up in children from such massive intakes of fructose – incredibly disturbing. There is food readily available almost everywhere, yet children are malnourished. It’s a set up for a lifetime-long battle of obesity and the diseases that come along with it. Kids and healthy eating seems like a losing battle.
Some blame society (marketing, convenience foods, etc). Others blame their own busy lives – “I don’t have time to cook.” And even others blame their kids – “Johnny will ONLY eat french fries.” In my opinion, these are excuses. Every parent has the power to positively influence their kids and healthy eating starting at a very young age.
How do I get my kids to eat better?
First off, set a good example for your children. Children mimic the actions and attitudes of the adults they’re around. If you want you’re kid to have a good attitude about healthy foods and exercise, it starts with you.
Simply don’t buy, or offer, junk food and drinks. If it’s not there, you can’t eat it! This is not to say never have occasional treats. But, that’s what they are: treats. Treats all day everyday is just a junk food diet which can lead to sugar addiction, obesity, diabetes, and early onset heart disease.
So, you’re wondering WHAT to buy for snacks? Fruit, nuts, nut butters, organic plain yogurt, cheese & turkey slices, pre-cut veggies with hummus, or brown rice bowls (top with salsa or pesto). Try making homemade baked potato or sweet potato fries. Ditch the microwave meals/snacks and above all, ditch the soda. Soda, even diet, is the fastest downer of sugar and toxic chemicals into the body.
Get your kids involved in making food and make it fun! Even when they’re little, kids can be involved in the prep process. Have them add in already chopped up ingredients into the bowl or pan. Have them add in seasonings. Ask them what they want to make for meals and what ingredients they want to include. Look up recipes for healthy homemade treats and make them together. Try my carrot cake muffins, they’re easy and delicious!
Have at least one sit-down meal per day together as a family. I know all about crazy and practically round-the-clock work schedules – believe me I’ve done it. Sit down meals every night with family members may not be possible. At least make a nice meal each day and enjoy it with who’s home. It builds family unity and encourages positive conversations between family members.
Always focus on healthy lifestyle choices, not physical appearances. Encourage your children to play outside often, rather than sit watching TV or playing video games. Again, remember children mimic adults – so get involved yourself! Take your kids hiking, skiing, climbing, play ball, or even just go for a walk! Help them make positive food choices by offering good choices. Never comment on a child’s physical appearance, even in a joking way, as this can really stick with them and be damaging.
Sneak in those veggies! If you are having a tough time getting your kids to eat certain veggies, sneak them in! Put spinach in a fruit smoothie, puree cooked veggies and add it to sauces, or promise that broccoli can be topped with yummy melted cheese!
Keep trying! Start putting fruits and vegetables on their plates from the day you introduce solid foods! Don’t ever give up. They may gag at it or mash it up in their hands and smear it on the wall the first 99 times but eventually the hand will make it to the mouth! Offer veggies at every meal!
How do I get my kids to be more active?
When kids are outside playing, they’re much less likely to engage in “mindless eating” that typically comes along with TV watching and video games. When kids are outside, they’re learning physical and social skills, and getting fresh air and sunshine. This builds lifelong healthy habits. Again, these habits are encouraged, or not, by you the parent. Instead of family “movie night”, how about family “Saturday hike”? Play sports with your kids. Go kick a ball back and forth in a field. Enroll your kids in team sports. And don’t forget to make it fun!
Kids and healthy eating is not an impossible feat. Keep the options clean, and be clear with rules. Put a limit on screen hours and get outdoors for at least 30 minutes of play each day. Enjoy nutritious food and be physically active as a family!