By Susan Howard
Over half our country is considered overweight or obese. We keep hearing these statistics about how fat Americans are, but how can we as parents do anything about the next generation of potential weeble wobbles? Here are a few tactics to keep your little ones from turning into bigger ones.
Lead by example; make healthy food choices a part of your day to day regimen.
Put out a colorful bowl of fresh fruit that is visible to your family.
Let your children see you be physically active. Be it swimming, running, weightlifting, hiking –whichever you pick, make it consistent.
My daughter sees me lace up my shoes and she asks, “Are you going for a run, Mom?” At four and a half she is already asking if she can try and run with me. They want to do what you do. You are their mentor.
Be active with your children. Coach their soccer team, practice playing catch in the backyard, or let your kid ride their bike while you run.
Create fitness traditions. Sunday afternoon family bike ride, Thanksgiving morning 5k, Parent and me yoga, after dinner basketball hoops. Many of my clients get in an extra workout with their children by running with them at soccer practice, doing baseball drills, hitting tennis balls back and forth, you name it. Nothing gives me more joy than to see parents passing the torch of wellness on.
Never eat out of a container. Make yourself a plate with a portion on it!
(Confession: I mess this one up sometimes.)
Wait as long as humanly possible to introduce soda, or better yet don’t introduce it at all. Even with the huge cash flow in soda companies I have never read anything good about it. One would think they could find SOMETHING. They can afford to hire scientist to try test after test. Likely there is nothing to uncover except rotten teeth and obese kids.
Throw in some protein for most meals. If you have a kid who likes eggs, that’s a great way for them to start their day. Peanut butter and a cut-up apple is an easy treat, cheese sticks or yogurt. You could try pieces of chicken with a mound of shredded cheese.
Offer veggies as often as possible, make it with something they like, put a thin pad of butter on top or sprinkled cheese. Use spices as well; many kids (not all) like flavor.
If one parent is obese in your family, your child has a 40% chance of being obese. If both parents are obese, your child has an 80% chance of being obese.
Let’s tip the scale in the right direction. We can inspire ourselves and our little ones. They are watching you, believe me.