You may be aware of the rising obesity epidemic among American adults but did you know that obesity in children is also on the rise? This is an issue that needs to be taken in consideration especially if you have young children in your household.
The KTLA news Health Watch recently reported that 1/3 of children in this country are obese which is a very alarming statistic. If action isn’t taken in regards to their choices of food/drinks and amount of physical activity, these children are likely to face health related issues much earlier in life than expected.
Therefore if you know your family consumes an excess amount of potato chips, soda, cookies, not to mention frequent fast food excursions, it may be time to make a change that will impact not only you and your spouse, but your children also.
If you instill the importance of healthy eating habits along with the benefits it provides the body, your children will grow up with a higher respect towards healthy living. Simply put, the way your children eat and drink in their youth is likely to continue as they become adolescents and adults. Unhealthy habits kids have when they are young will often stay with them as they grow.
Depending on the ages of your children and their current eating habits, getting them to eat in a healthy manner may or may not be difficult to implement. You may even need to show them pictures/videos about the consequences of obesity and what can happen later in life if they are not health conscious in their youth to get them motivated to make a change now. You know your family the best so you may need to get a little creative for this to work for everyone.
One fun way to start developing healthy eating habits at home is to make it a family game.
First, think of the most important changes you want to start changing in your family’s nutrition. What would you consider to be the unhealthiest eating habits your family/children have? Focus on that first.
Set a short term goal such as no soda, chips, or unhealthy fast food choices for one month. If everyone in your family sticks with it then they will all win a reward such as a miniature golf trip or roller/ice skating excursion.
Discuss it as a family and come up with something you all agree on so that everyone is motivated to stick with the healthy eating habits challenge.
If you feel as though a month is too long of an initial time-frame to start with, take it one week at a time. Then on a Sunday afternoon/evening, everyone gets a small treat such as a trip for frozen yogurt or a movie night with popcorn.
You can lengthen the time-frame as everyone gets accustomed to the new healthy eating habits and naturally increase the reward amount accordingly. In other words, after successfully accomplishing a one week challenge, try a two week challenge next, then a three week, etc.
Lastly, come up with a creative name for your family’s challenge such as “The Healthy Harpers” or simply “Our Healthy Eating Habits Goal”. Make a poster or printout you can put in a visible, high traffic area to help serve as a reminder for everyone in your family to stick with it.
You can even use daily stickers or stamps (especially for young children) to keep track when healthy eating habits have been maintained. Another fun way to keep track is by using marbles in a jar. Each member gets to put one marble in the jar at the end of a healthy day of eating. When the jar is filled to a certain point, the prize is won.
Making health a top priority in your family takes planning and a willingness to try something new. There may be some uttered complaints or whining from your children but don’t budge an inch if you are determined to improve your family’s health because it will be well worth it.
You are in charge of your household and you know deep down in your heart that the choices you are making now will help your family further down the road. Remember, your house means your rules – but now your healthy eating rules.