If you are concerned about your child’s weight, as a parent, there are many things you can do to help your child avoid the distresses of weight related problems and diseases as they become adults.
At the end of the day, children learn from the habits of parents at a young age. Given teens are more difficult to work with, if you help your child understand a healthier lifestyle from a younger age, it will be easier to help them as they get older.
It’s never too late to start. But you have to start with yourselves as adults first if you are to help your children. Watching what your children eat, (their calorie intake) and what their activities are (burning calories) is a good place to start.
All the while you hope to make these changes; you also have to bear in mind their growing needs. Making the right choices in food selections and preparations is very important, whilst maintaining a healthy balanced diet. For example, choose to buy/make home baked wholemeal bread instead of white bread. Choose durum wheat pasta instead of white pasta, or Basmati brown rice instead of white rice, baked chips instead of fried crisps, select 70% plus cocoa contents of chocolate.
Portion sizes are equally important in addition to physical activities outside of school. Learn what your child’s calorie intake should be for their age and ensure it is broken down into proper meal times and account for snacks in this calorie value too. Try a system whereby fast foods/restaurant meals are seen as a treat, say at the weekends, once or twice a month so that they don’t get bored of the same routine of foods and really do value it and look forward to such treats.
Activities should be just as important for growth and development and social skills. Make sure children get plenty of exercise as this helps burn any excess calories if they have already put on unnecessary weight. Long gone are the days when people refer to chubby youngsters as having baby fat or puppy fat that should disappear when they get older! This is a myth. The fact is, chubby children are more likely to develop weight related diseases as they continue to become overweight/obese later on in life.
Access to plenty of fruits and vegetables, proteins, pulses and whole grains are imperative, a close eye should be paid on the consumption of sugars and fats However, do not disregard the needs for essential fats found in meats and fish etc. Help your children now to develop a long healthy life.
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“Balancing Calories: Help Kids Develop Healthy Eating Habits
One part of balancing calories is to eat foods that provide adequate nutrition and an appropriate number of calories. You can help children learn to be aware of what they eat by developing healthy eating habits, looking for ways to make favourite dishes healthier, and reducing calorie-rich temptations.
Some consequences of childhood and adolescent overweight are psychosocial. Obese children and adolescents are targets of early and systematic social discrimination. The psychological stress of social stigmatization can cause low self-esteem which, in turn, can hinder academic and social functioning and persist into adulthood.
Obese children and teens have been found to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD), including high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and abnormal glucose tolerance. In a population-based sample of 5 to 17 year-olds, almost 60% of overweight children had at least one CVD risk factor while 25 percent of overweight children had two or more CVD risk factors.
Less common health conditions associated with increased weight include asthma, hepatic steatosis, sleep apnea and Type 2 diabetes.
- Asthma is a disease of the lungs in which the airways become blocked or narrowed causing breathing difficulty. Studies have identified an association between an overweight childhood and asthma.
- Hepatic steatosis is the fatty degeneration of the liver caused by a high concentration of liver enzymes. Weight reduction causes liver enzymes to normalise.
- Sleep apnea is a sleep-associated breathing disorder defined as the cessation of breathing during sleep that lasts for at least 10 seconds. Sleep apnea is characterised by loud snoring and laboured breathing. During sleep apnea, oxygen levels in the blood can fall dramatically.
- Type 2 diabetes is increasingly being reported among children and adolescents who are overweight. Onset of diabetes in children and adolescents can result in advanced complications such as CVD and kidney failure.
In addition, studies have shown that obese children and teens are more likely to become obese as adults.
What can I do as a parent or guardian to help prevent childhood overweight and obesity?
To help your child maintain a healthy weight, balance the calories your child consumes from foods and beverages with the calories your child uses through physical activity and normal growth.
Remember that the goal for overweight and obese children and teens is to reduce the rate of weight gain while allowing normal growth and development. Children and teens should NOT be placed on a weight reduction diet without the consultation of a health care provider.
Balancing Calories: Help Kids Develop Healthy Eating Habits
One part of balancing calories is to eat foods that provide adequate nutrition and an appropriate number of calories. You can help children learn to be aware of what they eat by developing healthy eating habits, looking for ways to make favorite dishes healthier and reducing calorie-rich temptations.
There`s no great secret to healthy eating. To help your children and family develop healthy eating habits :
- Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products.
- Include low-fat or non-fat milk or dairy products.
- Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils, and beans for protein.
- Serve reasonably-sized portions.
- Encourage your family to drink lots of water.
- Limit sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Limit consumption of sugar and saturated fat.
Remember that small changes every day can lead to a recipe for success!
The recipes that you may prepare regularly, and that your family enjoys, with just a few changes can be healthier and just as satisfying. Check out our low fat breakfast recipes for kids and some healthy fast food options
Although everything can be enjoyed in moderation, reducing the calorie-rich temptations of high-fat and high-sugar, or salty snacks can also help your children develop healthy eating habits. Instead, only allow your children to eat them sometimes, so that they truly will be treats! Here are examples of easy-to-prepare, low-fat and low-sugar treats that are 100 calories or less :
- A medium-size apple
- A medium-size banana
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 cup grapes
- 1 cup carrots, broccoli, or bell peppers with 2 tbsp. hummus
Another part of balancing calories is to engage in an appropriate amount of physical activity and avoid too much sedentary time (I Pad, Mobile Phone, Gaming, TV etc).. In addition to being fun for children and teens, regular physical activity has many health benefits, including :
- Strengthening bones
- Decreasing blood pressure
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Increasing self-esteem
- Helping with weight management
Children and teens should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity most days of the week, preferably daily. Remember that children imitate adults. Start adding physical activity to your own daily routine and encourage your child to join you.
Some examples of moderate intensity physical activity include :
- Brisk walking
- Playing tag
- Jumping rope
- Playing soccer
In addition to encouraging physical activity, help children avoid too much sedentary time. Although quiet time for reading and homework is fine, remember, limit the time your children watch television, play video games, or surf the web to no more than 2 hours per day. Encourage your children to find fun activities to do with family members or on their own that simply involve more activity.”