Parents are faced with so many decisions regarding feeding rules for kids. Let's face it, preventing childhood obesity is certainly easier than the cure and will pave the road to a healthy life. Declining physical activity, our busy lifestyles and an increase in sugary foods are causal in childhood obesity. The good news is that parents can effectively pave the road to health for their kids by changing just a few feeding rules.
- Monitor drinks: Drink calories count. Water is the #1 drink for children. Milk is #2. 100% pure juice is #3 (with a limit of 4-6 ozs. of juice per day for a younger child). Soft drinks and other juices are high in sugar and unnecessary additives, with little to no nutritional value.
- Turn off electronics: Limiting computer and TV time will encourage activity, as well as interaction with others. Mindless snacking will also be reduced as well. Numerous studies have cited an increase of electronic use (TV, video games, computers, etc) with childhood obesity. Ideally 2 hours per day is a goal to aim for. Kids will naturally become more active.
- Parents control the food supply: This tip is the most obvious, but the most difficult for parents to enforce. Parents ultimately choose and buy the food that is available at home. Kids will always put pressure on parents to purchase sugary cereals, sodas and unhealthy snacks. However, we are the parents. Keep the cupboards stocked with healthy snacks, fruit and vegetables. Kids will not starve! We can certainly purchase a "favorite" snack that isn't very healthy once in awhile so kids do not feel deprived, which brings us to the next tip.
- Include treats sparingly but regularly: Depriving kids completely of treats is unhealthy too, and can lead to a food obsession, stealing, and over eating. Planning routine "treats" teaches kids how to put sweets in their place. A weekly fast food meal, or a portion controlled dessert will teach kids the happy balance placed on healthy foods and an occasional treat, and will avoid the feeling of deprivation.
- Be a role model: Set a good example for your kids. Be the role model for eating healthy. If you are eating healthy, they will naturally follow. As with every aspect of parenting, kids will do as they see. Choose healthy foods, eat at the table, avoid sugary foods and sodas, and become more active with them.
About the author:
- LuAnn K Caprio, RN,C., BSN
- Owner of Bellalicious Boutique, Registered Nurse