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Even if you are not an active person yourself, there are numerous things you can do to excite your children about working out and eating right. Training for your child about childhood obesity and the child's responsibility for his or her own health needs to start very early. How early depends on the child, but if done properly, the child gets a healthy sense of fitness and good health.
Make up your mind to be very careful about how you present this subject to them. If the subject is improperly discussed, they could develop an eating disorder or the wrong idea about themselves, and this is counterproductive. The idea is to give them a healthy sense of their responsibility for their own weight, but at the same time, keep the discussion focused on the fact that they are loved and appreciated at any weight. One way to avoid the subject being about size is to tailor your talks around the topics of health and strength.
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Develop Good Habits Early
The easiest way to success is to start training them when they are young. Starting them off with a bottle filled with flavored drinks or soda is not the best way to train them to enjoy the tastes of healthy things. Friends, family, and neighbors don't always help either. It may seem like sabotage is everywhere in the form of candy, cookies, chips and more.
Fast food may seem to be easy, but it will undoubtedly set them up for a long struggle with their weight. Even if you limit their exposure to it when they are young, they may gravitate towards the fast foods after they get on their own and have their own money to spend eating out.
Try to balance carbohydrates with proteins and grains. Opt for whole grains instead of white bread and brown rice over white. This may mean changing how the family eats to ensure everything goes smoothly but, the reward is huge.
All you can do is your best. Give them healthy non-sugary foods. Stay as true to natural foods as you can. Allow your child to despise peas at age two but leave room for them to keep trying as their taste buds develop. At age five, peas may be number one on their list of favorites.
If you are past the early years, there are still many things you can do to help your child to take responsibility and be successful in staying healthy.
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The Middle Years
Children who are midway to adulthood are very susceptible to advertisements touting popular but possibly unhealthy foods. If you are just starting to point your child to better health, go a little deeper when explaining the facts about the consequences of not taking care of yourself.
Few parents are in perfect health, but even if you are, it may be impossible for your child to live up to the same expectations just yet because of growth spurts and other factors. They need to know they are loved just the way they are and understand that as long as they stay active and try to eat healthy, you are pleased with them.
Take lots of family outings: riding bikes, playing ball, walking, hiking etc. If this is not your style, make a way for your child to tag along with a family who does goes on these types of adventures. There are many school, church, and social group activities in which a child can participate. If this seems more your style, find a group your child would thrive in and wants to attend. Never force them as this is counterproductive.
Keep healthy foods available at home, and make it a point to offer them a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner. If they eat away from home any meal of the day, check on the quality of the options offered and encourage your child to make the right choices.
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Inspiration from Unexpected Places
Kids will gain inspiration from some of the most unexpected places. They may watch a cartoon like "Dragonball Z" and get all excited about becoming strong and start working out. If they ask for weights, get them some that are right for their strength and instruct them on how to use them properly. If they think they would like to jog, bike or do yoga, get them the equipment or videos they need. There are not always sunny days to go outside so plan on having some type of equipment that is safe for kids so they can fun exercising indoors.
This may come in the form of a game such as "Twister", video games or console games like Wii, or just dancing along with an appropriate video geared for kids. Use your imagination!
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If you are not the example you want to be for your kids, be honest. Talk to your kids. Explain how you became overweight, but focus on how you want to get healthy. If you refuse to walk, eat right and so forth, your kids will be the first to point it out. Be ready to accept that. Honesty goes a long way toward boosting their confidence and making them see that being overweight is not fun, and it is very difficult once you get there.
If you are very strict about your weight, only a few pounds overweight and prone to obsess over it, or know you have an eating disorder, be careful not to pass that on to them. You may need to enlist the help of a person who does not have an eating disorder to help explain healthy eating to your child. What you say to them greatly impacts how they think about themselves. You want to help them understand that they are loved no matter what weight they are.
By being honest about your weaknesses, they learn to trust you and become stronger people for it. They know that you will always tell them the truth even if it means admitting a fault or weakness you have.
It is important to try diligently to live a life of health in front of them. If you constantly eat unhealthy things in front of them and tell them, "No, you cannot have that bowl of ice cream", while you eat yours, they will most likely come to resent you for that and sneak sweets whenever they can get them.
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Tweens and Teens
At this age so many things are changing for your child. They may already be overweight. This is not the time to begin berating them especially if you watched them get to that weight when you thought they were still young and it was not a big deal. Instead, try some of these helpful solutions.
- It is important to let them know you love them.
- Be sure they truly "get" the concept that size does not determine their worth. Your child may be in perfect fitness/ health for their age but not be a size 2. Insert balance into their lives by assuring them of your love.
- Talk to them about what they want for themselves. If their goals seem extreme in any way, help bring things back into perspective.
- Teach them to set goals.
- Offer them a very healthy breakfast every day.
- Fill the cabinets and refrigerator with nutritious foods and snacks.
- Eat at home when possible and make dinner together. (Let them invite their friends to dinner if that is an issue. However, the family bonds get stronger when families dine together.)
- Allow them to get involved in activities that will get them moving around more but don't force the issue.
- Have a family night. Include active activities such as football after dinner or volleyball in the back yard, or try tennis, running, walking or hiking together at the local park.
- Consider getting a gym membership for the entire family.
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Understanding Food Choices
If you wish to eliminate a big calorie contributor, avoid transfats such as margarine, vegetable shortening, canola oil and so forth and stick with healthier extra virgin olive oil, coconut oils, real butter( in moderation), and other healthy oils from natural plants and nuts.
Transfats are probably one of the number one ingredients in food that cause weight gain that sticks on the body like glue and clogs the arteries. It is that stubborn fat that is almost impossible to get rid of. Some nutritionists say apples help the body eliminate transfats fat. Helping your child learn about modified foods will win half of the battle.
Think about getting them involved in growing some of their own food either in a garden or pots. This ensures they do not ingest genetically modified foods (GMO), which could negatively impact their organs and thus their health. Many commercially grown foods are now GMO, but you can buy healthier foods by purchasing your produce from local farmers who grow heirloom varieties or grow your own.
Teach them that white foods such as white sugar, white flour, white rice and other white foods have the fiber removed. Fiber is one of an individual's best defenses against weight problems and health issues such as diabetes, colon cancers, and more. Choosing wisely will ensure the best chance at being healthy and maintaining a healthy weight. Opt for raw sugars, honey or Stevia (zero calories), brown bread, brown rice etc.
Corn syrup is another ingredient that has a negative impact on one's waistline and health, and it may contribute to type two diabetes. A healthy alternative in this case is Stevia, which is an herb with zero calories. It is 10 times sweeter than sugar so it only takes a small amount. It also dissolves nicely and almost instantly. Look for brands that do not add fillers.
Eggs were once considered dangerous to eat if one ate the yolks. It was thought that the cholesterol in the yolks added to the cholesterol in the blood. Recent studies have proved this false and have shone the light on the fact that egg yolks contain a good cholesterol that is credited with helping reduces the bad cholesterol in the body. So, have two or three eggs a day and watch your weight, and possibly your cholesterol levels, improve.
These are just some common issues known to nutritionists around the world. Only a few years back, most individuals were uninformed about most of these issues, but because of the increased awareness of the results of recent studies that have been conducted, more healthy options are becoming available in supermarkets.
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With love, patience, a little work, your child can grow up to be fully responsible for their own weight and health. These tips on childhood obesity and the child's responsibility, if used properly, enable you to help your child live a long healthy life.
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Source: Atlanta Page has studied nutrition and worked in the nutrition business. She continues to stay on the pulse of new information. She has raised 3 beautiful kids who take responsibility for their weight and health.
Helping your overweight child: http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/over_child.htm#howhelp
Photo #1 McDonalds Meal by David under Public Domain
All other photos: © 2011, Atlanta Page