It's never too early (or too late) to talk to your kids about important issues that impact their health. Although it's better to start health conversations as early as possible, having "the conversation" with your child at any point in their development is better than saying nothing at all- particularly, if that conversation is about your child's weight.
Whether your pediatrician told you that your child is at risk for weight-related disease(s), or you recognized early signs yourself, it's important that you recognize the need to address immediate health issues now.
Taking action now typically helps to lessen problems ahead.
Talking to your child about better eating and activity levels is your best first step toward his healthier future. Just as your child isn’t alone in needing help to live a healthier lifestyle, neither are you. There are many parents out there just like you, struggling to find the right path to lead their children.
Since we all know that old habits are hard to change, we’ve put together some tips and solutions that have worked for other families. We think they might work for you too.
Wherever you are is the right starting point for you and your family. There is no "wrong" time or place to begin the journey to better health. Here are a few tips from our advisors to keep in mind along the way.
Our kids look to us for guidance and it's our job to help them learn how to make good choices. We need to set limits and raise expectations in order for our kids to live healthier lives.
Remember, you know your family better than anyone else. Where you lead, they will follow. If your kids are competitive, challenge them to a family "food fight" that charts your family's daily consumption of fruits and vegetables and let the winner pick a fun non-sedentary activity for the whole family to enjoy that week like a trip to the zoo.
Make sure that healthy fruits and vegetables are cut and ready for immediate consumption. Serve vegetables with a healthy dip, like hummus. as an appetizer before mealtime. And keep dance videos, jump ropes and other easy-to-use exercise equipment visible and accessible to all.
Think Healthy Behaviors, Not Weight
We can't expect our kids to focus on healthy living while our sole focus is on the scale. It's important to incorporate weight into discussions about overall health and making good choices for our bodies.
Forget special diets
What's good for one is good for the entire family. There is no need to have one family member on a restrictive diet. Find healthy food options capable of satisfying the entire family.
Promote the Positive
Catch your kids doing something right and applaud their efforts. That's the key to success in addressing weight-related health challenges, according to mental health professionals.
Don't Become the Food Police
Don't ask your child if they really "need" another piece of cake. Teach them to self-regulate by paying attention to their body's signals, like feeling full. Experts warn against restricting certain foods, which often leads to binge or closet eating in children. Focus on portion control instead.
Do the Right Thing
Our kids do as we do, so make sure you model the behavior you are seeking. A parent who says, 'Go get some exercise' while lying on the couch" is not likely to meet with success Eat your vegetables, drink plenty of water and take the stairs... Remember, where you lead, they will follow.
Health Coach Bess Blanco shares how to talk with your teen or tween about weight issues and good health. This video is reposted with permission, To learn more about Blanco’s easy, affordable ways to get healthy in their kitchens and lives, visit; www.theintentionallifestyle.com
Our children learn from us. We need to model the behaviors we want them to perform. That’s why it’s important that we really look at our own behaviors. Are we operating under the rule, “Do as I say, not as I do” more than we would like to admit? Take action alongside your child or as a whole family. Encourage your child to explore a wide variety of physical activities to determine what they like and then encourage them to participate in some of those with you regularly. Find JOY in being active together!
- If your child spends more than one or two hours a day in front of a device with a screen (TV, mobile phone, computer, video games, etc.):
- Cut your child’s screen time down by half.
- Practice safe balances during TV commercials.Ask your child to put down the device, and start a jumping jack routine or a hide & seek contest with you
- If your child does not get 60 minutes of activity in a day, try:
- Taking a family walk after dinner
- Parking in the back of the lot when doing errands
- Challenging the family to a dance contest
- If your child falls into the category with 90 percent of children ages 6 to 11 in the U.S. today who consume at least two or more sugary drinks (soda, juice, sports drinks, etc.) daily, then:
- Cut their consumption in half by replacing one drink a day with water.
- Keep a pitcher of water with fresh lemons, limes, or orange slices in the refrigerator to make the switch more appealing.
- Invite your child to create their own smoothie out of fresh or frozen fruits and water with your assistance if needed.
- If your family is not getting in the recommended requirement of fruit and vegetable servings daily, take action! Even the smallest steps add up, contributing big benefits to family nutrition.
- Squeeze in at least 1 more veggie & fruit serving to the family table daily.
- Be adventurous; introduce to your family a new and different fruit or vegetable like an artichoke or a star fruit.
- Pack your own nutritious snacks, drinks, and meals for family outings which include veggies & fruits rather than stopping at a fast food restaurant or a convenience store.