Guest Author - Patricia Mitchell
There are many theories for the substantial increase in obesity over the past decade. Some blame the fast food industry, the introduction of genetically modified foods, chemicals and toxins in our self care products, the decrease in activity, processed foods, and the list goes on. Most likely all of these factors play a part, and unfortunately more children are having weight issues at an earlier age.
If you think your child has a weight issue, have them checked out by their pediatrician to rule out any medical or emotional issues. Consult with your child's physician for weight loss options that are appropriate for your child's age and any dietary restrictions. In addition to your doctor's recommendation, here are some simple steps to help your child develop healthier eating patterns and increase their activity level.
Set a good example with your daily food choices. Teach your child the importance of healthy eating and taking care of their bodies. Taking them to the grocery store can be a great teaching experience; teach them how to shop mainly the perimeter of the store where the fresh fruits, lean meat, and vegetables are and limit the purchase of boxed or packaged foods. Have them assist you in selecting healthy recipes that you want to prepare for your weekly meals and have them help you write the grocery list. Show them how to read a food label and teach them the importance of avoiding products with high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils. Stress the importance of selecting organic and/ or all natural products as much as possible.
Do not reward your children with fast food or processed junk foods. Instead reinforce good behavior with something special for their room, books, music, etc. Rewarding children with junk food will lead to poor eating habits and most likely weight gain. Help them adopt a healthy attitude about food and stress the consequences of a poor diet such as obesity, diabetes, heart problems and a multitude of other diseases.
Get your children involved in school sports or a class at your local gym. Many gyms have classes specifically for children and have a variety of after school programs. If that's not an option, take your children to the park and play with them; they will love the attention, it encourages family togetherness and creates wonderful memories. Take family walks several times each week. It will be a great time to talk to your kids about their day, and help to bring you closer together by keeping the lines of communication open. You may want to get them to participate with you in a local race. It can be a short one mile walk/run or maybe a 5K race that the whole family can do. The races normally have a sign up fee that almost always go to support a local charity. This can teach your children the importance of helping others and boost their self esteem by having them set a goal, achieve it, and help others in need.