Food & Diet

4 Ways to Prevent Childhood Obesity in Your Kids

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Helping your child maintain his/her optimal weight throughout childhood is one of the best things you can do for their health. Maybe you feel bad about restricting candies and juices, but letting your children eat lots of chocolate and sweets and take in many calories through juices will probably lead to their weight gain and potentially obesity.

Your child should have a balanced intake of calories from nutritious foods as well as treats. You should also pay attention to their level of physical activity – the more active they are, the more energy they need (but from proteins and healthy carbohydrates, not from chocolate).

You can help your children develop healthy eating habits which they will hopefully pass on to their children. The eating patterns children get used to in childhood are likely to stick with them in adulthood as well.

Here are 4 ways to prevent childhood obesity in your kids (which could also work if your child is already obese and you want to help them lose weight in a healthy way).

1. Introduce healthy eating habits.

If your children are used to having candy every day instead of a proper meal, they are likely to form a habit and it can be difficult to get them off sweets. But you shouldn’t even try to forbid them from eating candy.

Instead, you should introduce more healthy meals which will fill them up and then they will need/want less treats. The key is making small changes and take little baby steps.

  • The most important step is to provide your children with meals that contain plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
  • Milk and low fat dairy products are a good addition to meals (if your children are not lactose intolerant).
  • You should encourage drinking fresh water instead of replacing it with juices.
  • The main sources of protein should be lean meats, fish and legumes.

And don’t make your children eat huge portions of food. They usually don’t need much food if they are not very active. However, you should give them enough food so they wouldn’t feel the need to satisfy their energy needs with junk food.

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Sugar-rich foods and beverages should only occasionally be given to your children, as a dessert. Make all these changes slowly, because if you change everything at once your children will be frustrated as they can no longer eat and drink what they like and are used to.

2. Make them their favorite dishes, but healthier.

Do your children enjoy some dishes in particular? Even if the dishes are unhealthy, with a few changes they can be turned into nutritious and healthy meals. There are hundreds of recipes online, it just takes some effort. Your children will be happier and healthier because they will be getting what they want, but modified and turned into a healthy meal (while they probably won’t even know the difference).

3. Calorie-rich temptations should be eliminated.

It is alright for your children to eat fatty and sugary foods occasionally and in moderation, but basing their diet on those foods is utterly unhealthy.

Some children just can’t help themselves, and when they see cookies on the counter, they simply reach for them and have to have them. What you should do is keep those treats out of reach, and give them to your children only once in a while.

Also, you could introduce healthier snack options such as bananas, apples, nuts and seeds which can always sit on the counter for your children to take. These snacks, in controlled portions, are healthy and nutritious and will not cause your child to become obese.

4. Help your children love physical activity.

Physical activity is very important for your children’s physical and mental growth and development. Besides burning calories and helping with weight loss and maintenance, physical activity also reduces stress and anxiety and helps children raise self-esteem.

Children usually don’t have a problem with being physically active, but for those a little lazier, you should try to engage in activities with them:

  • Play a sport together.
  • Go on a field trip, bring a ball and play football or volleyball.
  • Go for bike rides or long walks together.
  • Go to a swimming pool or a lake/river/sea if it is summertime.

The possibilities are endless. The more fun your children have while being active, the more likely they are to continue with such a lifestyle. Active children are usually more inclined to make healthier eating choices and lead healthier lives.

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