Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday's Tip

Instill healthy food habits in your kids.

Childhood obesity in the United States has TRIPLED in the last 20 years. If I think back on grade school, there was one heavy set girl in my entire class. If you look at a typical grade school class now, you'll see a lot more than just one obese child. It makes me so sad to see children who are already heavy because they are starting down a path that will more than likely be lined with disease, pain, and of course, bullying. You ask how I remember the one bigger girl in my class? Well, it's because I remember her nickname. I remember how mean the kids were to her. I remember thinking that she had a hard life. I was right.

Here are some tips for instilling healthy food habits in your kids because the earlier you start, the easier it will be to establish or change the way your child approaches food.

1. Set a good example for your kids. If they see you chugging soda and eating chips in the afternoon, that is what they are going to want. I am always so proud when my kids ask for an afternoon snack of carrots or fruit. It shows that I am *finally* changing their food thoughts. (For the record, I started this about a year ago and we are just now to the point where they ask for healthy stuff. It was a struggle for a long time.)

2. Keep the fridge and cupboards stocked with healthy snacks.

3. Allow your kids to follow their natural appetite and don't force them to be a member of the Clean Plate Club when they are not hungry.

4. Don't use unhealthy food as a reward. Telling your kids that if they are good, they will get ice cream might get you the desired behavior in the short term but it will set your kids up to think they get sugary snacks when they do something good. Later in life, their reward to themselves for getting a promotion will be a huge slice of pie or something similar.

5. Eat together, not only at the same table but eating the same fare. This is so much easier said than done. My family sits together for dinner pretty much every night and we rehash our day and spend some much needed time together. I will say that I do struggle with having the kids eat the same thing as us, but I am working on it and I hope you will too.

6. Take the salt off the table and don't add it to the food. Your kids will be accustom to that taste and it's a hard one to break. Even harder is sugar so don't allow them to start putting that on their breakfast cereal in the morning.

7. Allow your kids to join you in preparing the meal. This will help them to learn how to cook and to appreciate the work that goes into making the food they are about to eat.

As I said before, I am still a work in progress on this tip but I hope many of you will join me in the fight to save our kids from the disease of obesity.

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