September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, giving us all
a chance to spotlight an issue that many children are at risk of developing.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about
1 out of every 5 children in the country suffers from obesity and certain
groups are at a higher risk than others. As a parent, what can you do
to ensure your children stay healthy and develop good eating habits? The
answer to this might even be more difficult if you are co-parenting. However,
it is not impossible.
Below is a list of some tips that you and your co-parent can review to
ensure your children are able to maintain a healthy weight and have a
balanced and nutritious diet:
Encourage healthy eating habits: One of the best ways to make sure your kids are eating right is by encouraging
it and providing the means to do so. Always provide plenty of vegetables,
fruits, and whole-grain foods and include low-fat or non-fat milk and
dairy products. When it comes to protein, opt for lean meats, poultry,
fish, beans, and lentils. It is also important to always serve portions
that are reasonably sized and that your children always consume enough
water and limit their intake of sugary beverages. You and your co-parent
could collaborate on meal plans to ensure there is consistency in their diet.
Make their favorite dishes healthier: Kids do not always gravitate toward the healthiest of choices, so some
of their more favored dishes are probably not entirely healthy. Instead
of denying them their favorite dishes, try to change up the recipe to
make it healthier for them. They might even like it better than the unhealthy
version of it. If you happen to successfully alter a recipe, share it
with your co-parent, so he or she also has it readily available in the
food arsenal for future meals.
Remove the temptations: No one is saying your children can no longer indulge in treats, but these
are only okay in moderation. You and your co-parent should learn to limit
high-fat and high-sugar or salty snacks to better instill healthy habits
in your children. Provide healthier snacks instead, such as a medium-sized
apple, a banana, a cup of blueberries, a cup of grapes, or a cup of carrots
or bell peppers with some hummus.
Help your kids understand the importance of being physically active: Your kids might not entirely understand why being physically active is so
critical at this age, so you and your co-parent should try to help them
understand that it provides numerous benefits that go beyond simply controlling
weight. Physical activity can increase self-esteem, decrease blood pressure,
reduce stress, and even strengthen the bones.
Help them stay active: You and your co-parent should also help your children stay active by encouraging
them to participate in at least an hour of physical activity every day
or as often as possible. In fact, you can even set a good example by adding
physical activity to your daily routine, which you can even include your
children in. Some excellent examples of physical activity you can all
engage in include brisk walking, playing tag, jumping rope, playing soccer,
swimming, and dancing, to name a few.
Reduce the time you all spend being sedentary: Quiet time for school work is obviously necessary, but you need to limit
the screen time your children get, such as TV, games, or internet to no
more than a couple of hours a day. Instead, try to encourage your children
to do fun activities with you as a family.
Ultimately, as co-parents, it is important that you maintain consistency
in your children’s lives to ensure that healthy habits are encouraged
in both households. Coordinate on their diets and make sure they are getting
the same level of activity no matter where they are staying. Together,
you can help fight childhood obesity.
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