Over the past four decades, the obesity rate in our nation’s children has risen at an alarming rate. Obesity puts our children at risk for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and other horrible aliments. Luckily, there are many ways to reduce your child’s risk, and being that September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness month, why not start today! Below are five tips for reducing your child’s risk for obesity and obesity-related diseases. Start small by choosing one of the five ways listed below that you and your family can work towards a healthier lifestyle.
Restaurants are businesses, and they are willing to do anything to satisfy your taste buds. They ensure you are satisfied by packing their meals with lots of fat, salt, sugar, and calories. Even foods that seem perfectly healthy (i.e. a grilled chicken Caesar salad…sounds good right?) can contain a day’s worth of fat and sodium. Furthermore, restaurant portions are often two, three, even four times the recommendations, and because it tastes so good and we spent money on the meal, we often overeat. Making meals at home is an easy way to ensure your family is eating better. Plus, not only will reducing meals outside your home make your family healthier, it will also save you money!
2) Reduce portion sizes
There is no such thing are bad foods… just bad portions! Any food can be eaten in moderation and in the correction portion size. Many of us suffer from portion distortion, meaning that we often overeat because we have no idea what an actual portion is supposed to look like. For example, large bowls often cause our children to consume 2-3 portions of cereal in a given morning. To help with this, practice reading the nutrition labels and measuring out your portions to find the true portion size of your food. You may be surprised at what you find out!
Soda and juice (even 100% fruit juice) can really take a toll on your child’s healthy and weight. Without the fiber found in whole fruit, fruit juice is not able to fill your child up, so the juice your child drinks provides them with sugar and calories, but leaves them still hungry. Making the switch to water and sticking with whole fruit has the potential to prevent a weight gain of up to 12 pounds in one year.
4) Cut back on screen-time
Screen-time refers to time spent watching television and playing on electronic devices such as the computer, video game sets, and tablets. Time spent on these devices is often sedentary and replaces time spent playing outside and being active. Furthermore, we often snack during screen time, and when we are not paying attention to our hunger mechanisms and instead looking at a screen, it is very easy to overeat. Try to cut back on screen-time by limiting it to 2 hours or less per day.
Not only does physical activity help with weight management, it also strengthens the heart, lungs, bones and muscles, improves mood, school performance, and sleep patterns, and decreases risk for depression and a variety of chronic diseases. The good news is… physical activity doesn’t have to be boring or hard! Aim to get active with your family daily for at least 30 minutes. Some great fall activities include going for a walk or riding bikes to a local park, raking leaves and jumping in the piles, or starting a game of soccer in the back yard!