The statistics on growing obesity among children may get your heart pumping in panic, but that won’t help your little ones if they’re getting bigger than they should. What’s a mom worried about high cholesterol, diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses to do?
First, relax. While the problem is large, there are small steps you and your family can take to make wellness a part of your everyday routine.
Make exercise fun. Turn on the music and encourage the kids to dance around while helping to set the table, clean the kitchen or do other chores. A mini trampoline can get the heart working at home if you live in a busy area where you don’t want your kids riding bikes or playing ball in the street.
Set regular eating times. This can be tough when you’re running one kid to soccer and another to band practice, but a routine of regular meals helps curb reliance on fast food and to-go snacks that can be higher in fat and calories.
Practice what you preach. If you’re telling your kids to stop the snacking, but you’re still loading the grocery cart with chips, you’re sending mixed messages. Even when children don’t seem to be paying attention, they are. If they see you eat well, they’ll be more likely to do so too, Freeze says.
Count steps. Use a pedometer for both kids and adults. Math-minded kids may like being able to see the numbers increase with every step they take. Walking soon becomes a game.
Don’t be bothered by variety. The idea of eating broccoli every night may bore you to tears, but if it’s the only veggie your kid will down, serve it up. Let your child take ownership of the dish, finding new ways to prepare and serve it.
Be sneaky. A vegetable in spaghetti sauce is better than no veggie at all. Try introducing a new vegetable into a favorite recipe. Once it’s accepted, expand its repertoire.