With childhood obesity on the rise – as many as 1 in 5 children of school age are obese – it’s hard to know what to do to keep our children healthy. There is so much mixed information out there for parents on what to do to make the best choices for our children. Promoting healthy choices early on is the best thing.
Children are extremely impressionable. If you encourage health from an early age, they will be more likely to make healthy choices as they get older. So let’s take a look at these five simple steps to better health in youngsters.
Eat Your Meals Together
Having family meal times is really beneficial for kids, not just for their physical health but mental too. Preparing meals together encourages healthy eating habits early on. When preparing meals to include whole foods, fruits & vegetables – especially leafy greens as they are some of the best anti-inflammatory foods – and protein.
Prepare your meals with your children. Get them involved in the meal, making the process. If you get them involved, they’ll be able to make better choices when they’re older about the type of food they’re eating. Make healthy, eating fun.
Eating meals with your children also helps with their mental wellbeing too. Having that family time together increases your bond with your children. It allows you all talk about anything that’s going on too. Family mealtimes are really beneficially for both mental and physical health in children – and adults too!
Encourage outdoor play with your children. If your children need to lose weight, quick weight loss is more likely to happen if you encourage your children to run and play outside. Outdoor play is actually so beneficial to children mentally and physically.
Make a family activity of outdoor play. Go for walks. Go exploring with your children in the woods. Encourage them to get back to nature. Getting out in nature is so good for your child’s development and keeping them active means that when they’re older, they’re more likely to be active teens and adults too.
Pack Healthy Snacks and Lunches
So many children have unhealthy meals and sugary snacks for their packed lunch. I know it’s easier and more convenient to pack up some crisps and processed foods into their lunch bag in a rush before school. But making a healthy lunch for them the night before will be really beneficial for their health and wellbeing.
Encouraging healthy snacks and meals actually helps children make healthier choices when they’re older. Prepare their lunches and snacks in the evening before bed and make an activity of it. Let them explore foods. Allow them to choose between certain vegetables and fruits to give them a sense of control whilst still keeping it healthy instead of letting them choose biscuits and chips.
Help Your Child Get Better Sleep
Poor sleep patterns contribute to weight gain and obesity in adults, and it’s no different for children either. Help your child get better sleep by following a good bedtime routine. Have the same evening routine each night. Limit screen time in the evenings and choose relaxing activities like reading etc.
Common bedtime routines include bathing your child – try using a soap or bubble bath with lavender – and brushing teeth. Get them in their pajamas and have some story time. Read their favorite books. Make sure you turn the lights down or put on a nightlight if they are a little sensitive to the dark. Talk in relaxing voices and keep everything as quiet as possible.
Having a good bedtime routine is really beneficial to your child’s sleep patterns. And, of course, having good sleeping patterns means that your children are less likely to be obese.
Stick to Water and Milk
You’d actually be really surprised at how much sugar and calories are in fizzy drinks and fruit juices. There just isn’t any benefit for children to drink these sorts of drinks. They’re just empty calories. To promote better health in your children, stick to water and milk.
It’s no surprise that fizzy drinks and sugar-filled soda is bad for your child’s health. In fact, drinking sugar-filled fizzy drinks are linked to obesity in children. Not only are they bad for your child’s health, but they’re also bad for their teeth too. Little teeth are sensitive to the sugars and acids that are crammed into fizzy drinks and fruit juices. So try and cut down on them if your child already has them and if not, don’t introduce them at all. Your child will thank you for it when they are older.
As you can see, there are a few things you can do to help keep your children healthy. If you start encouraging healthy choices in your children now, they’ll make healthier choices when they are older. Childhood obesity has become a bit of an epidemic; however, with the right encouragement, you’ll be able to instill healthy habits in your children from a young age.
The main thing to remember here is to get your children to play outside often. Make sure that your children are getting enough fresh air and burning off calories in a fun way. Have more family time that is active. By making healthy choices a family thing, you’ll not only be increasing the bond between you but also leading by example and showing your children what choices to make.
Encourage them to eat healthy, to play more, and to spend less time stuck in front of a screen. Screen time isn’t wholly bad, but it needs to be balanced out by spending time outdoors and playing. Get your child involved with meal times and educate them on healthy choices when it comes to eating. Make sure your children know that fruits and vegetables are better for their bodies than chips and candy.