I want to start by saying I am so happy to be doing a guest post here on Mom Fuse! As a nurse I have to say I personally love How Your Choice Not to Vaccinate Puts Everyone at Risk!
As a pediatric nurse I feel like I am always asked the same questions. I am asked about habits, teaching, milestones, health, illness, and so much more. One question that I am asked all the time is “How can I teach my kids healthy eating and exercise habits?”
Sadly, most of the time, when this issue comes up it is because the child is already overweight and at risk. I have even heard parents say, “well, look at his dad and I, we are both big, so how can you expect him to be any different?” Usually this comes after admitting that they hit the drive through 2-3 times a week and have pizza the rest of the time.
According to the CDC
the percentage of children aged 6-11 years in the United States who are obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12-19 years who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period.” (CDC.gov)
There is a difference between being overweight and obesity. Determining if you are overweight or obese has to do with your BMI. Even though there is a difference, they can both have an effect on your child’s health. Children who are obese have a higher chance of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and bone and joint problems, just during their childhood. Not to mention the lasting effects as they get older. The best thing you can do is prevent this from happening in the first place, and it really is not that hard to do.
Healthy habits need to start from birth.
I am not saying your child can never have cake or ice cream, but you need to start instilling healthy habits early on. I am also not saying you have to make all your own baby food and exclusively breastfeed. If you can do these things, great, if not that is great too. There is no need to spend a ton of money on organic because they are the same as non organic foods. When it is time for your baby to start solids, packaged baby food is just fine.
The issues come when a parent come to the hospital bragging that her 2 month old just had his first taste of ice cream and he loved it so she kept giving it to him. This is not only unsafe, but now that he knows what sugar tastes like, he will be looking for that in everything he eats.
The other reason it is so important to start developing healthy eating habits early on is because if weight does become an issue, then it is easier to fix it. If you never make your child eat his vegetables, then one day when his weight is an issue and you are making him eat his vegetables, he will fight you tooth and nail. It will be much easier if he knows he already likes them.
Lead by example
This one is most likely the most difficult for us as adults to practice. We often want to follow the “do as I say, not as I do” rule, but kids are imitators. If they see you pigging out on cookies, guess what they are going to do. If they see you eating a banana, guess what they are going to do. It’s as simple as that, but it is so hard to do!
Plan your meals and snacks and purchase accordingly
Know what you are going to make for supper for the week. Do you have ball games every night this week so you can’t make a four-course-meal? That’s okay, I am not saying make a full meal every night. Just prepare. If you need to eat out one night, that is okay, but crockpots are wonderful inventions! You can make so many healthy meals in them it isn’t funny! Go ahead, google “healthy crockpot meals”, I’ll wait.
Do you see what I mean? Just throw the ingredients in the crockpot in the morning, turn it on and supper is done when you get home. Everyone can even eat at different times if you won’t all be home at the same time. Try to avoid boxed meals when you can, as they are full of carbs and artificial ingredients. Fresh is better when you can.
Involve your kids in this process too. Let them each pick a meal one or two nights a week, or let them pick the protein. Let them help you plan out the meals, and even help you make the meals if they are old enough. This will teach them how to cook healthy foods on their own.
When you go grocery shopping, plan for snacks. Don’t buy cookies and chips, hit up the produce isle and find carrots, celery, apples, kiwi, bananas, or anything else your kids love. These make for great healthy snacks, and without the cookies and chips in the house you can’t eat them!
No more eating in front of the TV or food rewards
Avoid eating in front of the TV as this leads to mindless snacking. Have you ever sat down with a bag of chips and after some time you look and think “did I just eat a whole bag of chips”? That’s what we want to avoid. Instead of eating in front of the TV, try eating at the table as a family. This is also a great way to talk to your kids and find out what is going on in their lives.
Giving your kids food as a reward is almost as bad. Have you ever bribed your child by saying “you can have ice cream if you eat you (insert food here)”? I have, and I know it’s wrong. When you do this, your kid learns just how to get what they want from you.
Drinking pop and sugary juices add empty calories to their diet. Again, I am not saying they can never have pop or juice, but try to limit it to just during meals. Encourage them to drink water when they are thirsty, especially in the summer when they are outside.
No, you don’t need to have a gym membership for your child! Children are meant to be naturally active. Sadly, nowadays parents want to put their kids on “cruise control”. They buy them video games and expect them to play video games all day and be entertained. Sadly, kids will do this if you let them. Yes, there are some games that encourage movement, but it is still not enough. In the winter it is hard to get your kids the exercise they need because it is so cold, but that is where school comes in with gym class.
There is no reason though that your kids cannot play outside year round. True, in the winter they may not spend as much time outside, but don’t stop them from going out and playing because it’s cold (obviously not in extreme temperatures). In the summer encourage your kids to get outside! They can swim, play ball games, ride bikes and so much more! Just let them go. Again, this can start from birth by encouraging them to play and move. Even your one year old can benefit from swimming and playing outside!
So there you have it, the best ways to encourage healthy eating and exercise habits. I am not innocent in all of these, trust me, but even a small change can make a big difference. The best thing you can do is start instilling healthy habits from an early age as prevention is the best medicine.
Are your kids struggling with weight issues? Or have you struggled with your weight from a young age? What have you done or what are you currently doing to fix the problem? Did you start any of these habits with your kids at a young age?
Cassie is a work at home wife and mom to one and a cat, dog, and fish owner. She was previously a labor and delivery nurse, and is currently a pediatric nurse. In her free time she can be found crocheting and crafting if she is not writing on her blog. She loves to share her knowledge with others. You can find her on her blog at www.alloutblog.net. You can also follow her on Facebook or Twitter.