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8 Things You Can Do To Promote Healthy and Happy Kids

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The obesity crisis in our nation is out of control and many times the trend to obesity starts with our children and how we are raising them. We, as parents are the ones feeding our children. We have control over what they eat; therefore, we have the power to change their course starting at a very young age. A good analogy is a child arriving to soccer practice late…. is it the kid’s fault? No, it is the parent’s fault for not getting the kid to practice on time. The same thing is true with food, if there is unhealthy food in the house, the kids will eat it. Take away the bad choices and you will have half of your problem solved.

You don’t need to be obese to become concerned with what and how much you eat. I am the mother of three children, all of whom are thin and athletic, but there was a period of time when I had been guilty of raising them with too many processed foods and providing them with unhealthy choices in our home.   Why? Because it was convenient…. Costco was right down the street and we were too busy building our coffee shop business to take the time to feed our children with the love and care they deserved.

Some might say things like, “ but my kids are not fat, in fact, they are too skinny so I need to fatten them up by letting them eat foods like ice cream and donuts.” No, no, no…. this is not the way to go…. loading kids up with processed foods full of sugar and lacking of any nutritional value whatsoever is not the right choice of food to help your kids grow into healthy adults. There are many problems can occur when you feed your children junk such as behavior problems in school and at home, poor grades, behaving poorly in social situations, attention and focus disabilities, ADD tendencies, etc.

Here are my tips to promote healthy and happy kids:

1) Always have healthy choices around the house. I try to have non-processed foods like fresh fruit and nuts on the kitchen table along with plenty of filtered water for the kids to eat and drink when they arrive home from school in the afternoons. I also make sure they get an afternoon superfood smoothie that includes some sort of protein along with vitamins and minerals and foods that will help boost their immune system to combat all the germs they bring home from school.

2) Have sit-down family dinners. It seems like family meals were more the norm back when I was growing up compared with today. Dinners at home not only mean that your meals are home-cooked meals, but it also means that the family can bond and share adventures about their day and the kids have less time to get into trouble. One question we like to ask every member of our family at dinnertime is, “What are your highs and lows?” You can start one family dinner night per week,     take it gradually and add one night per week.

3) Portion out plates in the kitchen before they hit the table. Some kids have no off button so preparing their plate beforehand helps them learn portion size.

4) Teach kids to focus on how they feel when they eat healthier food. When kids eat food that is nourishing for their bodies compared to junk food, they will most likely notice that they are less moody, or that they feel better about how their skin looks and feels.

5) Let kids rate the foods that you serve them. Let’s say you serve them veggies as part of their dinner; ask them to rate the veggies on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being yucky and 10 being totally awesome.   Take notes on the foods that the kids like and try to serve those more often and serve the foods they like the least less frequently.

6) Reward positive behavior. When kids choose a healthy choice, praise them for doing so. Tell them they made a great choice and they are so smart to choose a food that will help fuel their body and nourish it compared to something that will potentially have long-term negative affects.

7) Be a good role model. If your kids see you working out, they will copy what you do. If you workout at home, you can invite them to join you…even if they just jump around next to you or climb onto your tummy when you do your crunches. Working out at home saves money on gym and babysitting costs, and saves time, as you don’t need to travel. If you prefer a gym or an exercise class outside the home, the kids will notice that you place a high priority on working out and realize that exercise is an important part of taking care of your body.

8) Provide your kids with an environment of fun, excitement, and love so that living a meaningful life is their “Primary Food” and the food they eat is their “Secondary Food”. Fun, love and excitement have the power to feed us so that the food we eat becomes “secondary food”. Here are some elements of life that can feed kids’ souls and constitute “primary food”: a meaningful spiritual practice (going to Sunday school or just time to sit and relax and think); positive school environment; regular or enjoyable physical activity; loving home environment; healthy social life and honest and open relationships.

Over the last 30 years, the rate of childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents. Currently, 31% of adults and 18% of children are obese, as defined by their body max index (BMI)

We have seen a rise in obesity-related health conditions among children and adolescents.   A 2007 population-based survey of 5-17 year-olds showed around 70% of obese children and adolescents have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. There is much concern that if the rate of childhood obesity continues so will the prevalence of medical conditions.

How did our kids get so unhealthy? Two of the reasons for childhood obesity are 1) kids eating foods that are not healthy for them 2) kids not exercising enough. Too many sodas and too many junk food advertisements being placed in front of our kids are contributing to the increase in our kids’ waistlines.

As a parent myself, I know it is hard to not cave in and give our kids whatever they want to eat. I love my kids too much to feed them food that I know will not only make them have problems such as mood swings, focus and weight management in the short term, but will teach them an unhealthy way of living that could have detrimental affects on the adults they become. Don’t get me wrong, I am not an all or nothing mom, I do let my kids indulge in occasional treats, but try to use the 80/20 rule so that 80% of the time, I am feeding them wholesome and healthy foods and 20% of the time, I let them eat what they want. The secret to success as a parent who is concerned with providing children with a healthy environment is consistency and being a good role model.

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ABOUT: Sue McDonald is a Santa Barbara local, a health coach, personal trainer, PiYo Strength instructor, entrepreneur, home business mentor and elite masters track and field athlete offering services both online and in person to individuals and families all over the US and Canada.

www.McDonaldFitness.com  l  FB.com/McDonaldFitnessCoach  l  Instagram – @mcdonaldfitness

 

January 23, 2015

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