Obesity at a young age can lead to chronic health issues like heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and even social and emotional concerns down the line. Childhood obesity has become more prevalent, and as a parent you have the keys to help prevent this trend.
As a soon-to-be parent of twins (due in March!) and with September being National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, what a perfect time to share some essential tips you can take now to help your kids develop healthy habits early on and throughout their lifetime.
Tip #1 – Be a Great Role Model
As the phrase goes… Practice what you preach! Looking to encourage your kids to make healthier food choices? Then a good place to start is by consuming healthier food and drinks yourself! Children are great learners and often copy what they see. If you have healthy meals, snacks, and drinks in the house, your kids by default will be forced to consume those healthy options (…and you will too) … win-win! As a parent, choose active hobbies, exercise and show your kids how your own energy and mood is improved and affected by a healthy lifestyle and nutritious food choices. It is great to explain how their CHOICES can affect their HEALTH (for better or for worse)!
Tip #2 – Take your Children Grocery Shopping
Lots of kids learn by DOING so let them be involved in every step of the way when planning, shopping, and prepping food. Do you typically plan what meals you’ll be eating during the week? Why not have your children in charge of the healthy meal on Wednesdays? Let them select the meal, help shop for the foods to create that meal, and then let them be involved in the kitchen. The more you can have them be a part of the process, the more they’ll understand both the WHY and the HOW to select healthy choices on their own. Think of it as grooming them for their healthy future!
Tip #3 – Be Active with your Children
Kids should engage in at least an hour of physical activity per day. So whether they are involved in after school sports, other extracurricular activities, or you get active together as a family, make sure to make the time to do so. In addition to moving more, make sure to limit screen time to no more than 2 hours per day. Even on those gloomy days, spend less time staring at those electronic devices, and more time talking, using the brain, and maybe cooking!
Tip #4 – Get Enough Sleep
Lastly, sleep is SUPER important for children… and adults! Without enough sleep, energy is low, metabolism is slow, and exhaustion can lead to decreased physical activity and poor food choices throughout the day. Toddlers should get 11-14 hours per day, preschoolers 10-13 hours per day, school-aged children 9-11 hours per day, and teens should receive 8-10 hours per day. Adults should aim for 7-9 hours per day. By hitting these markers, you are more likely to lead a day full of healthy choices compared to days when you and your children are sleep-deprived. So make it a priority to have your kids (and yourself) hit the pillow at a good time each night!