A healthy lifestyle starts at home, and it should be started at a young age. Childhood obesity is on the rise, but there are many things that parents can do to help prevent it. Follow these five tips to get your child off to a healthy start.
- Encourage a balanced diet.
Putting children on a strict diet isn’t recommended. You want them to develop a good relationship with food, and that involves introducing them to a wide variety of healthy foods at a young age. A balanced diet should include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and low-fat dairy.
- Get them moving.
A sedentary lifestyle is more likely to lead to obesity. Participate in many different fun physical activities as a family and encourage them to play with kids in the neighborhood to get fresh air, social interaction, and plenty of exercises. Even during the winter months, they can stay active indoors with scavenger hunts, online exercise videos, and getting creative with building forts and other activities.
- Limit screen time.
Children should be limited to less than 2 hours of screen time each day, and that screen time they do have should be educational. Encouraging physical activity is one way to keep your kids off their devices. Still, you can also avoid putting a television or computer in your child’s room and turn off the television at dinnertime and any other time you’re not sitting directly in front of it.
- Don’t combine screen time and snacks.
When your child does have access to screen time, don’t give them snacks while they watch. It can be easy to overeat while you’re sitting in front of the television or computer because you aren’t focusing on the feeling of being full. Avoiding snacking during screen time helps prevent overeating.
- Focus on healthy, not weight loss.
Since children grow so rapidly, the goal should be to maintain their current weight while increasing height. Constantly talking about losing pounds can give them a negative view of their body, leading to body image issues later in life. Make the goal healthy eating and lots of activity to prevent childhood obesity.