My sister was rolling in laughter when I had chopped carrots, raisins and breadsticks at my daughter’s 3rd birthday party. With all the information on the rise of obesity in young children I couldn’t bring myself to fill the table with chocolates and cakes. I was shocked that as a parent she and others thought I had taken the healthy eating thing too far. After that humiliating experience I did some research on how far we should go regarding monitoring our children’s weight and found that it is actually very important.
Research has shown that an overweight child is more likely to grow into an overweight adult, which in turn can cause other health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure in later life. Being overweight can also have a negative impact on an individual’s confidence and self-esteem, hold them back in life and prevent them from achieving their potential. This is why it is so important to educate our children on the importance of healthy eating and exercise early on in life.
Of course as a responsible parent it is natural to be concerned about your child’s health. But finding the right balance is not always an easy thing to do. When I think about my kids friends there are generally two types of eaters when it comes to food.
The kids who eat nothing, their parents are constantly trying to cram anything down their throats because they simply do not eat! I actually think this puts too much pressure on the kids and puts them off food all the more. And then there is the other extreme ( my kids!!) who will eat absolutely anything and just do not know when to stop! Personally I would rather my kids eat anything than nothing even if it can be a bit embarrassing having a human hoover by my side sometimes…..
Here are some top tips to help our children lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
1 – Use an online tool to find out what the healthy child weight is for your children, you may find you have nothing to worry about.
2 – Child obesity has as much to do with lack of exercise as it does food, so ditch the video games and get the kids out in the park running around instead. A child under 5 should have at least 3 hours of exercise a day. Just general playing is enough as long as they are moving around not sitting still it all counts.
3 – Leave the car at home and walk to school, to the park or to the shops. I know it can take forever to get anywhere when they have to swing round every lamp post, kick every stone and not step on the cracks but try to be patient and just leave the house a bit earlier to allow for these things all kids do!
4 – Most kids enjoy helping out in the kitchen so let them. The more knowledge they have about food the more keen they will be to try new things. So when you chop vegetables let them stand on a stool beside you and wash them in the sink, I bet you any money they can’t resist having a little nibble of fresh carrot or pepper…yummy!
5 – Swap snacks that are high in sugar and fat for healthier options such as fruit. Grapes, blueberries and carrot sticks are perfect to take with you when you are out and about. Try breadsticks with cheesy dip or fruit toast at home. They may take a bit of convincing but stick with it!
6 – Serve a portion of vegetable or salad with every meal, even if they don’t eat it or say they don’t like it keep putting it on their plate. I it works, hide it in their food, carrot in mashed potato for example.
7 – Try not to get too obsessed with an overweight child. Remember they are growing all the time and small changes can make a big difference. You want them to have a relaxed yet sensible attitude towards food. You can find more health tips for children online, in the library or from your GP.