If you’re a parent, you know just how much work goes into raising a child. But there’s one thing that often goes unnoticed or waved off as a child grows: their weight. Of course, weight can be a tricky subject, and approaching the concept in a healthy and child-focused way is a challenge. Here are some ways you can help children maintain a healthy weight for now and in the future.
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Healthy Eating Habits
Starting kids off with healthy eating habits will prevent unnecessary weight gain. Plus, the stronger these habits are now, the more likely the kids will be to carry them into adulthood.
Healthy eating habits include focusing on real, whole foods like fresh fruit and vegetables. Save pre-packaged, processed, and fast food as special treats instead of an everyday thing. Limit sugar from candy and soda.
Avoid Unhealthy Temptations
A bag of chips or a frozen pizza can be tempting for both children (who find them delicious) and adults (who struggle to find time to prepare healthy meals). However, the more often you introduce these unhealthy temptations, the more expected they’ll become, breaking up all those healthy eating habits. Make sure to keep healthy snacks, like fruits, veggies, yogurt, etc., in the house, so no one is tempted to just grab a packaged snack.
Young children seem to have never-ending energy – and that’s a good thing! Daily activity and exercise mean stronger bones, growing muscles, and even decreased blood pressure. And it’s not just the physical side effects of daily activity that are worth it for kids; they’ll also get more chances to socialize and develop interpersonal skills, increase their self-esteem, and reduce stress and anxiety.
Try enrolling your children in sports or afterschool activities that they enjoy. The more they like staying active, the more likely they will make it a real habit throughout adulthood.
Limit Sedentary Time
Encouraging your child to stay active means that you might have to put some limits on sedentary time. The CDC recommends no more than two hours of screen time per day for children over the age of two. Too much screen time or other sedentary activity can negate the exercise or physical play they’ve had during the day.
Encourage a Sleep Schedule
Not getting enough sleep is one factor that can lead to childhood obesity. Without proper rest, people tend to eat more and be less active, thanks to feeling very tired. Kids may not love “bedtime,” but establishing a sleep schedule can make a big difference in their overall health, including maintaining a healthy weight.
Making sure your child maintains a healthy weight now means fewer weight struggles and health problems later on.