Unplug and Connect Your Child to a Healthy Lifestyle
Children are full of energy. Watching TV, surfing the Internet or playing a video game can’t replace physical activity or human interaction. For children to be as healthy as possible, families need to unplug and reconnect.
In recent years, childhood obesity has more than doubled in the United States. Today, approximately 17 percent of children and adolescents are considered overweight or obese.
Childhood obesity has immediate health risks, including:
- High cholesterol and high blood pressure
- Bone and joint problems
- Sleep apnea
- Social and psychological problems, such as poor self-esteem
Get Connected with Fun, Physical Activity
Physical activity is an important part of the fight against childhood obesity. Children and adolescents should participate in at least one hour of physical activity each day. Some of this may already take place at school, but it’s also important to encourage exercise at home. Find creative ways to get moving and make it fun for the entire family:
- Create healthy house rules. After dinner, the entire family will walk around the block and no one is allowed to sit during television commercials.
- Celebrate special occasions by doing something active. Play kickball or volleyball as a family to celebrate a birthday or go hiking to celebrate an achievement.
- Do household chores as a family. Involve everyone to wash the car or do yard work — you’ll complete chores faster while making it fun.
Add extra steps to your routine. Walk instead of drive when the location is near. Use the steps instead of the elevator and park farther away from entrances.
Power Up with Better Nutrition
We won’t pretend it’s always an easy task. But your child’s health depends on a nutritious diet. With a few easy tricks and minor adjustments, you can be sure your child has healthy options.
- Location, location, location. Children will reach for things that are easily accessible. Try replacing a candy dish with a fruit bowl. If sweets are in the house, keep them out of eyesight and stored on a high shelf.
- Make unfamiliar foods appealing. Cut fruits and vegetables into different shapes or combine with a delicious dip. Most likely, your child will want to try the “cucumber spaceship” instead of automatically turning it down.
- Keep it colorful. Try eating fruits and vegetables of different colors to give your family a wide range of valuable nutrients, such as folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C.
- Be enthusiastic. When serving a healthy meal, get excited about it. Often, your child will mimic your emotions or reactions. “Hip hip hooray — it’s peas and carrots day!”