Getting Healthy as a Family
The obesity crisis in America is not limited to adults. Children and teens struggle with weight issues. Currently, over 32 percent of children are overweight or obese. Further, if you look around the kitchen table one evening and realize that your whole family needs to lose weight, you aren’t alone. The 2015 report released by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation indicates that 69 percent of adults and 32 percent of adolescents and young children are overweight or obese. In addition, it’s not fun for you to be overweight and it certainly isn’t fun for your kids. A survey by researcher Rebecca Puhl of overweight teens found that 64 percent reported being teased or bullied because of their weight.
Here are five strategies to reverse the trend:
Discuss the Importance of Healthy Eating Habits
Children need adults to teach them about foods that are healthy and to model healthy eating habits. Talking about good nutrition with children can be as simple as explaining the need to eat foods from different food groups to ensure they receive the different vitamins and minerals needed to stay healthy.
Remember to participate in some type of physical activity or activities for a total of at least 60 minutes each day. Have fun. Your kids are much more likely to participate in physical activities that are fun, so make sure everyone enjoys the time spent together.
No phones or TV on at the dinner table.
There are a lot of reasons that screens at the table are not a good idea, but in terms of health, it just doesn’t serve you. Even being partially distracted by a phone or the tv on in the background leads to more unconscious overeating. Instead, practice enjoying every bite. It’s a much more pleasurable way to eat anyway!
Don’t practice deprivation.
Not with kids, not with yourself- not with anybody! Depriving yourself of something completely leads to more desire for that something. If you tell kids “no sweets” as a rule, they will likely believe sweets to be the greatest and most amazing thing in the universe and seek them out. Allowing a bit of those guilty pleasures is actually a healthy practice, as long as it doesn’t go overboard.
Create menus with your kids that include foods that are healthy and that everyone enjoys. Then, take your kids shopping and let them locate different foods and teach them how to read food labels. If children understand the reason behind these changes, they’ll make the connection between good choices and a healthy lifestyle. In the long run, with this knowledge, children will be more likely to care and make the “better” lifestyle choices in the future. This means your family can continue to be healthy together for years to come.
Tackling your family’s weight problem isn’t easy, but the good news is you are not alone. Together you can face the problem, make positive changes, and move forward together feeling healthier and eating better. Working together as a family will always produce better results. It provides motivation, accountability, and support, plus it’s more fun than going at it alone.