We hear it on the news and read about it in the newspaper, the obesity rate in kids is growing, leaving them at risk for serious health problems now and as adults. As parents, it raises a lot of concerns. How can we turn this alarming trend around and ensure we raise healthy kids?
It’s proven that parents who are committed to their own healthy, active lifestyle raise healthy, active kids. Our own family participates in multiple sports – from my husband who swims and cycles to myself who runs and goes to the gym to our kids who dance, ski and do triathlons. It’s an integral part of our lifestyle as a family.
So what’s the difference between our family and all these other families whose kids are at risk? What are we doing differently than other families? The difference is commitment and effort. . . . from the parents.
Commitment to Staying Active
It takes a commitment to staying active, and effort to teach kids to ride bikes, play hockey, swim, do gymnastics. It takes effort to make the time for them to play or practice, to drive them, to organize games, to get outdoors with them and have active play dates.
It also takes parents modeling an active lifestyle. Parents need to plan active family time, not just family time. Go for a skate, a bike ride, a jog, a hike as a family. Be active yourself. Teach your kids that being active is fun and part of your lifestyle. There are so many great activities to experience, get out there and do them all as a family! Active parents have a better chance of raising active kids and active families are healthy families.
Commitment to Healthier Foods
It’s about more than just taking vitamins, it takes a commitment to eating healthy and an effort to make your kids healthy snacks. Starting with stocking the fridge with healthy fruits and passing up the convenient processed foods at the grocery store.
I know we are all busy and it’s so tempting when it’s right there to just skip the effort this one time. It takes two second to purchase the pre-made cereal and marshmallow snacks at the store and 10 minutes to make them at home. Is the extra 8 minutes worth your kids eating the artificial chemicals and dyes found in most of these packaged snacks?
It’s one thing to see all these brightly coloured convenient snacks with familiar cartoon characters begging children’s attention on grocery store shelves, its another to see a child after child with a lunch box completely full of processed food.
Today, kids are going to school with lunches made entirely of prepackaged convenience foods. Too often their lunches consist of a cello bag of chips, a plastic tube of yogurt, a packaged soft cookies, a wrapped tray of meat, cheese and crackers and a can of soda. Most of these children are too young to have packed that lunch on their own or to be responsible for making their own healthy choices.
As parents it takes our commitment to not buy so many packaged foods and to take the time every couple of weeks to make healthy snacks that can be stored in the freezer and popped in lunch boxes on school mornings.
Parents have the opportunity to teach their children about healthy food choices and healthy activity choices. Show your kids that exercise, staying active, eating fruits, vegetables and homemade foods is a commitment to a healthy lifestyle that your family is willing to make.
We have so much opportunity to teach them healthy habits that will last a lifetime. As parents, we certainly do influence what our children eat and how they stay active when they are young. Are you raising healthy kids?