Figuring out what foods are ideal for picky eaters and then finding a way to get their kids to eat them are common issues parents face. In response to concerns over the rising rates of childhood obesity, awareness that families and communities must work together to change this trend and promote healthy eating and active living has started to receive more priority.
So what can families do to promote healthy bodies and active living? Here are seven tips to get started.
1. Start with committing to more family meals. Frequent family meals have been found to improve diet quality in children and teens with an increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, grains and calcium-rich foods. In addition, teens with more frequent family meals had a lower risk of smoking, drinking, and doing drugs; disordered eating; depression; being overweight; and had better grades.
2. Create a “mindful family meal.” It’s not just about sitting together and eating—families also need to “connect” at mealtime. Rules should include no television, phones and texting. Keep kids involved in pleasant conversation. Teach children to eat slower and enjoy their foods. Ask children to at least try a bite of all foods—call it a “one-bite rule” or a “thank-you bite” to thank those that grew or prepared the food.
3. Avoid discussing dieting, weight teasing and body ideals. Despite our concerns about childhood obesity, most experts agree that discussion about body image, dieting and weight teasing are not effective measures when it comes to children and teens. Instead, focus on behaviors for the entire family.
4. Limit screen time. Screen time with television, computers, gaming and smartphones creates significant sedentary time for children. Work to set limits for recreational screen time. Recommendations include no recreational screen time for children under age two and less than one to two hours a day for older children. Avoid snacking in front of the television. Not having a television or computer access in the bedroom will also help to cut down screen time.
5. Encourage kids to be physically active. Make sure they get at least an hour a day of good, sweaty, physical activity. Schedule family outings—a walk, bike ride, or any other favorite family sport.
6. Provide a multivitamin with calcium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids. Kids today are overfed and undernourished and often don’t receive even the basic nutrients in their diet. There is increasing concern about vitamin D deficiency with kids, and many children are not getting enough calcium in their diets. Omega-3 fats are an important fat source and support brain development and heart health. Consider a children’s chewable vitamin like Usanimals, which contains the right amounts of a broad range of nutrients, plus a unique phytonutrient complex to support healthy growth and development.*
7. Remember that you are the parent—your children will reflect the food choices you make. We don’t have to forbid the treats and candy, but we have to teach our children moderation. Teaching them a healthy lifestyle in respect to food and activity is something they will carry with them forever. Yes, they may rebel at times, but be strong in your example. You are the parent.
|*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
A version of this post, along with other tips for your family’s health, can be found at DoctorOz.com.