Healthier children through exercise and better eating habits, 5 things you can do to help your children prevent obesity
by William D Charschan DC,CCSP, Author Cheating Mother Nature, what you need to know to beat chronic pain.
Years ago, parenting seemed simpler, without play dates or concerns that our children could be out alone and be safe. Over the years, parents became concerned about their childs safety and began to make their children’s playtimes more structured. Video games in the 70’s other than Pong were something you would play in an arcade, rather than in your home. Children naturally would go out and play until their parents called them in for dinner or because it got dark out.
The foods we eat play a part in why so many of our children are now overweight. Many of our processed foods require less work to prepare (there are calories burned while preparing food) and busy parents with their over reliance on fast foods and their high calorie content often did not realize that their children were taking in more than they were burning since their child, who sat in front of the ipad, or phone or dvd was eating and not moving.
We need to change the ethos of how we feed our children and how we allow them to socialize. Here are some helpful tips for parents of today’s children to help them stay physically fit and trim.
1. Fast food is ok, just know what you are giving them and understand the calorie count. Most of us never thought much about the big mac combo dinner or the happy meal. Because of current legislation, restaurants like Mcdonalds are posting calorie counts for all their food. Who knew that an adult big mac combo would have 1483 calories , more than half of what we needed for the day. For your small child, do they need to eat a chicken Mcnugget combo with over 500 calories for the meal. By knowing what the calorie counts are, people who are informed can make better decisions for their families and their children. Knowing this, a parent may only get the sandwich with the diet coke and skip the fries with the extra calories which will cut the meals calorie count in half or less. Perhaps this may be why Mcdonald’s is now reporting softer year to year sales, now that people understand what they put in their bodies.
2. Children need to eat all types of foods, including vegetables. My daughter loves brussel sprouts because I introduced them to her. Salads are a natural. Meats of all types are fine but be mindful of the portions. Overportioning, an American eating obsession (dine at a cheesecake factory to see overportioning) has become the norm. Unfortunately, children may overeat because their brain may say full way after they are. You can help avoid this by serving on a smaller plate. The full plate will indeed have a smaller portion and be more appropriate for them.
3. Avoid too much bread and the wrong types of carbs. We crave salt and starch. The food industry knows this and has helped us gain weight through numerous snack foods that we consume because they are addictive. While bread on a sandwich can be fine, a wrap may actually be a healthier and convenient alternative since the food does not tend to slip out. This is a great way for your child to eat a homemade sandwich in the car. Pizza and pasta’s are loaded with calories and we often overportion them. Non complex carbohydrates such as this will be quickly turned into sugar in the body and will make you and your child tired later, decreasing their motivation to move. Keep those carbs in check.
4. Be careful of fruit juices. Fruit juice is full of sugar, especially the processed ones. High fructose corn syrup is often used because the government subsidizes it and it is cheap. It will also leave you feeling bloated and their is some evidence that this manufactured product may be responsible for the rise of diabetes and obesity in the United States over the past 30-40 years. Drinks with cane sugar taste better and are likely better for you but should be consumed in moderation because of the calorie counts. Diet drinks are likely better choices however, your children should get used to drinking water or ice tea that is unsweetened. These drinks are safer, many teas have antioxidant properties and drinking water or iced tea has no calories.
5. Children should be allowed to socialize with other children and run around both inside and outside. They burn quite a few calories. Having them involved in sports is a great way to keep them physically in shape as they learn to develop relationships with their peers. If you live on a main road, and there are not many children around, often there are parks your children can go to and socialize with other neighborhood children. Over the years, outdoor activity has been replaced by sedentary game or video activity which is not the same. We were born to move and movement with less sitting as studies are now pointing out gives us a longer lifespan and a healthier life.
What do you think? As always, I value your opinion.