To Your Health
March, 2009 (Vol. 03, Issue 03)
General Lifestyle Characteristics of the Obese Child
- Busy parents with little or no time for outside activities.
- Children allowed to watch TV or play video games for more than one hour a day.
- Decreased physical activity at school.
- Diet high in fast foods and processed foods.
Healthy Practices: The Wellness Lifestyle
Pick an aerobic physical activity like bicycling, tennis, soccer, etc.; something your entire family will enjoy. Make it a weekly outing at first and then increase it to at least two times a week.
If you pick up your children from school, take a few minutes each day and walk a few laps around the school track with them before coming home. (By the way, that's also a good time to talk about their school day and anything else they may have on their mind.)
If you are a working parent who works out at a gym, check to see if they will allow your 12-year-old (or older) child to at least use the treadmill.
Offer an award system for physical activity; allow your child (particularly if they are sedentary) 10 minutes of recreation (TV, video games, etc.) for every 10 minutes spent exercising, running or playing outdoors.
Whatever physical activity you choose, pick one the entire family can enjoy. Sometimes, if a child is very active and participates in school sports or Little League, the family may consider game time as family/activity time. This actually can be detrimental to other children in the family, since they may end up sitting in the stands the entire time, usually consuming unhealthy food items.
The Power of Good Food
When making choices to help your child(ren) avoid obesity, consider this: Kids who are physically active and have a diet of fresh vegetables, fruit and healthy protein sources are almost never obese. Here are some ways to create a healthy eating environment:
- Implement the same health diet (rich in fruits, vegetables and healthy protein) for the entire family, not just one individual.
- Plan times when you prepare foods together as a family. Children enjoy participating and can learn about healthy cooking and food preparation.
- Eat meals together at the dinner table at regular times.
- Avoid rushing to finish meals. Eating too quickly does not allow enough time to digest the food and achieve a sense of fullness.
- Avoid other activities during mealtimes such as watching TV or reading.
- Have snack foods available that are low-calorie and nutritious. Fruits, vegetables and raw nuts (almonds, cashews, etc.) are good examples.
Avoid serving portions that are too large and thus encourage overconsumption.
- Avoid forcing your child to eat if they are not hungry, but do not give in later by allowing them to eat snack foods instead of their regular meal.
- Limit fast- food consumption to no more than once every two weeks.
- Avoid using food as a reward or the lack of food as punishment.
With all the negative influences out there these days, it's certainly not easy to establish healthy lifestyle behaviors in your children, but it's important enough to their health (and yours) to make the effort. Your children don't have to grow up overweight and unhealthy, and as a parent, you can help make sure they don't.
Tips for Healthy Eating: Recommended Web Sites
Claudia Anrig, DC, practices in Fresno, Calif., and is on the board of directors of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, an organization that can answer your questions regarding the value of chiropractic care during and after pregnancy.