Archive for August, 2011
Wednesday, August 31st, 2011
In today’s fast-paced world, many of us struggle with an over-packed schedule and little time to actually sit down to eat. As a result, busy people gulp and go while others – not necessarily under a time crunch – have the habit of eating too fast. The result? They take in too many calories before they realize they’ve eaten enough. After all, it takes approximately 20 minutes from the time you start eating for your brain to send out signals of fullness.
A recent study has revealed just how much weight gain can be expected based on eating speed. As researchers of this study expected, faster eating was associated with weight gain, but they were surprised at the actual amount of weight gain. The Department of Human Nutrition researchers recently analyzed the relationship between self-reported speed of eating and Body Mass Index in over 1500 middle-aged Australian women. Researchers determined that for every one-step increase in speed in a five-step scale, BMI increased by 2.8 percent, which equates to a weight gain of approximately 4 pounds.
It’s true that eating slowly and taking smaller bites can be very difficult to do, especially when you are busy and famished. But you’ll find it easier to slow the pace if you eat regular meals, and never allow more than four hours to pass between meals.
Still can’t slow down the pace? Try a few tricks we’ve put together at RLGLER to help you put the brakes on speed eating and recognize a full belly. Here are tips to slow down eating.
RLGRER Tip #1: One of the major reasons for eating too fast is not chewing long enough. To slow down your eating, chew every bite a minimum of 10 times–but shoot for 20.
RLGLER Tip #2: Put down the fork or spoon after each bite. This will slow down the automatic response of fork-to-mouth.
RLGLER Tip #3: Sip water regularly or in-between bites. It forces you to put down the fork.
RLGLER Tip #4: Make meals a social time. If you eat with your family or friends engage in conversation. Since you don’t want to be impolite and talk with your mouth full, it will take longer for you to eat. Plus a good conversation and good meal make a great combination.
RLGLER Tip #5: Eat with chopsticks. They automatically slow down your rate of eating and the amount of food you’re going to eat. If you’re a pro with chopsticks, however, use them in the opposite hand! As an added bonus, chopsticks allows heavy sauces to fall through the cracks and stay on the plate where they belong.
RLGLER Tip #6: Don’t wait to eat until you’re ravenously hungry, or you’ll eat quickly and too much. You’ll find yourself inhaling food.
RLEGER Tip #7: Sit down to eat and use a plate. Those who stand are usually rushing through the meal to get on to other things.
RLGLER Tip #8: Eat foods that require some work – artichokes, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pomegranate, crab or lobster. You have to work for your food here and that will help slow you down.
We can actually learn a lot about eating slow from pistachios. A great concept developed by Dr. James Painter , Ph. D., R.D., called “The Pistachio Principle” is a basic idea of slowing down when eating and you will eat less. When eating a pistachio, you must first break open the shell to get the nut out. By having to break each shell open, the consumption rate is much slower. A study found that people who ate in-shell pistachios ate 50% fewer calories. The participants in the study also reported feeling satisfied even having eaten fewer pistachios.
Another study also found that when the empty pistachio shells were left on a table in plain site after eating, 35% fewer calories were eaten. This is kind of a mind trick on the brain. It looks as if you have eaten a large amount of nuts due to the shells but in reality, you have only eaten a few.
RLGLER Tip #9: Try the Bite Counter, a new wristwatch-shaped device that, like a pedometer, keeps count of a specific repetitive physical movement. The machine is described as having the ability to counts bites taken with and without the use of a fork or spoon, such as eating an apple.
Be creative, and develop your own tricks for slowing down your eating.
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Sunday, August 28th, 2011
School lunches generally receive poor grades when it comes to their nutrition content and are typically short on fresh fruits and vegetables, and heavy on processed, breaded, and fried entrees. Take, for example, the study of sixth graders recently published in the American Heart Journal found that students were 29% more likely to be obese if they ate school lunches.
Most parents appreciate the importance of good nutrition and aim to provide healthy food choices for their children. After all, good nutrition helps provide them with the energy required to function effectively in the classroom. Also, children that have a more substantial lunch at school are less likely to graze on high calorie, high fat snack foods when they get home.
As parents, we know that good nutrition will help our children grow-up healthy, but what foods comprise a healthy meal? Here are some “good nutrition” guidelines for you to follow when your kids BYOL:
- Lean Meat/Protein Substitutes– Such as chicken or turkey breast, tuna packed in water, eggs, beans, fat-free cheese, fat-free cottage cheese or yogurt
- Whole Grains – Such as a100% whole grain bread, crackers, English muffins, pitas, tortillas, or cereals
- Fruits and Vegetables – At least one portion each of a fruit and vegetable (children tend to prefer it sliced which is easier to handle – for cut fruit that tends to go brown i.e. Apples – squeeze lemon juice
- Beverage – low in sugar and preferably without artificial ingredients, such as infused water or lightly sweetened iced tea
- Optional: Healthy Green Light Snack – such as air-popped popcorn, trail mix, dried fruit bars (like Trader Joes Fiberful bars)
This balanced lunch will provide your child with a variety of nutrients, including fiber, calcium, protein, and iron.
Read labels: Avoid foods with unhealthy food additives and other ingredients such as:
- partially hydrogenated oils
- saturated fats
- artificial colors and flavorings
- high sodium
- excess sugar
- MSG – look for glutamic acid or glutamate on the ingredients list
Tip – Choose natural and organic foods as much as possible.
With a clearer sense of what to include, it should be easier to prepare healthy lunches. But what about getting your kids to eat the lunches you prepare? These tips can help you pack wholesome meals that your kids are likely to eat and enjoy.
Involve your child – Children often like to help their parents and are more likely to eat foods that they choose and make. So let them help you make the shopping list, look through recipes and help prepare their lunches (to whatever extent their skills allow). The kitchen can become a place where you can bond with your children over food and educate them in a fun atmosphere.
Portion appropriately – Offer more foods in smaller serving sizes versus large quantities of fewer foods so that larger portions do not overwhelm your child.
Create variety – Don’t get into the rut of serving only the foods your child says he will eat. The wider the range of colors a meal offers, the more varied nutrients it contains. If your children are interested in trying new foods, suggest that they keep a log of new foods and what they think about them.
Add visual appeal – Presentation can make lunch fun and interesting for kids. Use cookie cutters to cut fruits, veggies and sandwiches in fun shapes. Choose lunch containers in their favorite colors and let them decorate the outside.
Transform old favorites – For example, take the usual ham and cheese sandwich and use whole-wheat bread
instead of white, and substitute organic ham.
Creating a week’s worth of lunches that are diverse and delicious is a challenge. To help you break a monotonous routine, we have created the RLGLER Healthy Lunch Planning Grid, complete with creative lunch ideas. Just pick one item from each column to create each day’s lunch meal.
|Main Dish – Lean Protein + Whole Grains
|Grilled chicken fajita in a whole wheat tortilla with onions and peppers
||Apple slices with 1 tbsp almond butter
||Whole grain or fruit and nut bar
|Organic turkey on multigrain bread with mustard
||Side salad with
and fat free mozzarella
|Lemon infused water
||Organic fruit leather
|Whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce, chick peas and grated parmesan
||Diced peaches or strawberries
||Trail mix made with whole grain cereal, dried fruit, nuts
|Yogurt Parfait: Light yogurt with whole grain cereal
||Lightly sweetened iced tea
||Air popped popcorn
|Vegetarian or turkey chili
||Low-sodium tomato juice
||Soy crisps, veggie chips or baked chips
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Thursday, August 25th, 2011
For kids especially, playing and exercising at recess is a fun way to enjoy – and begin to understand – the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Play is a critical component of healthy childhood development. A lack of physical activity can definitely have a negative impact on a child’s intellectual and physical development.
Yet playtime is becoming more infrequent every day. In the last two decades, children have lost an average of eight hours of free play a week and in some cities new schools are now being built without playgrounds.[i] So I’m excited to collaborate with Dannon® on Danimals® Rally for Recess promotion, to promote the importance of recess for kids’ healthy lifestyles.
Five lucky schools across America will win a $20,000 playground makeover and an all-day recess celebration that may include a climbing wall, dunk tank, obstacle course and large slide.
I invite you to get involved, too! For more information, including official rules, visit www.rallyforrecess.com.
ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THE DANNON® DANIMALS® RALLY FOR RECESS PROGRAM. MANY WILL ENTER, FEW WILL WIN. Program consists of the Dannon® Danimals Rally for Recess Promotion (the “Promotion”) and an Instant Win Game (the “Game”). Program starts 12:00:01 a.m. ET on 8/1/11, ends 11:59:59 p.m. ET on 1/31/12, or while supplies of codes last. Codes can be found under the overwrap of specially marked packages of DANNON® Danimals® products. For Official Rules, which govern, ask your parents and go to www.rallyforrecess.com. To obtain a free code, mail a 3”x5” card or piece of paper with your date of birth and valid e-mail address hand-printed on it in an envelope with proper postage affixed to: DANNON® Danimals® Rally for Recess Free Code Request, P.O. Box 1941, Danbury, CT 06813-1941. Requests must be postmarked no later than 1/31/12 and received by 2/7/12. Codes must be submitted by 11:59:59 p.m. ET on 2/8/12 to be eligible. Open to legal residents of the 48 Continental U.S. & D.C., 5-15 years of age (OR A PARENT/LEGAL GUARDIAN OF AN ELIGIBLE MINOR). Eligible minors should obtain the permission of their parents or legal guardians prior to participating. Void in AK, HI, PR and where prohibited. Sponsor: The DANNON Company, Inc.
Elkind, David. “Can We Play?” Greater Good
2008: Web. <greatergood.berkeley.edu>
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Monday, August 22nd, 2011
Thank goodness for breakfast bars: convenient, pre-packed, pre-portioned meals that are simple, mess free and portable! Breakfast bars can be a quick and easy part of breakfast or snacks for kids, but parents and health experts alike often question the nutritional value of these bars. Many are high in sugar, don’t contain real fruit and aren’t made with whole grains as many claim to be.
With so many different brands on the supermarket shelves, grabbing one while on the run is a simple way to satisfy your child’s hunger, but… NOT SO FAST!!! Before your child bites into that bar, make sure to check out the nutrition label. Many, although marketed as “healthy” are simply glorified candy bars. Just because the wrapper says hearty, harvest, whole grain, slim and/or healthy doesn’t mean they are good for your child. Many provide little nutrition yet lots of empty calories.
Follow these simple guidelines to choose the best bar for your child to help them stay on track with their diet!
- Calories – Aim for less than 200 calories if you are eating a bar between meals and about 300 calories if you are using it as a meal replacement. These calorie ranges should keep you satisfied through your next meal.
- Fiber and Protein – Bars laden with sugar and with little fiber and protein are burned by the body more quickly, and hunger soon returns. Look for bars with at least 3 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein per serving. This nutritional mix will help to keep you full without adding extra calories.
- Fat – A little bit of fat goes a long way. Look for bars with less than 5 grams of total fat (especially if it is a snack), less than 3 grams of saturated fat and 0 grams of trans fat per serving.
- Sugar – Look out for the hidden sources of sugar present in the following ingredients: high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, sucrose, fructose, honey, rice syrup, barley malt syrup, concentrated fruit juice and corn syrup!
* Red Light Green Light Best Bets
||< 1 gram
|*Balance 100 Calorie Bars
||130 – 150
||240 – 250
||< 1 gram
|*Special K Meal Bars
|Slim Fast Meal Bar
|Think Thin Bars
|* Fiber One 90 Calorie Bar
|Odwalla, Original Bar, Super Protein*
|Kashi’s TLC Chewy, Honey Almond Flax*
Remember that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so if you do decide to give your kids breakfast bars before heading out the door in the morning make sure you check to choose a healthy one. Also, be sure to incorporate one vegetable or fruit serving with all meals and snacks.
There is nothing wrong with breakfast bars you just don’t want your children to live off of them. If you don’t have the time to fix breakfast during the week then you can always whip them up a nice hot breakfast on the weekends.
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Thursday, August 18th, 2011
Pop Quiz: Do your meal options rotate between fast food, ramen noodles, or dining hall pizza? If you’re a college student and this sounds all too familiar to you it’s because most college students are pressed for time, under a lot of stress, and find themselves eating on the go. Sometimes it’s difficult to avoid fast food restaurants, all-you-can-eat dining hall junk food or even skipping meals. Without direction or nutritional discipline, students often fall victim to these situations that are sure to pack on the pounds.
Therefore, it’s important, especially with so much to do, to be aware of the proper nutrition your body needs to help you perform at your peak, both in the classroom and in the rest of your daily life. A healthy diet can help you feel better and cope well with stress, putting you on the right track for a successful semester! You don’t need a nutrition degree to eat healthy; just follow these situation specific fitness and nutrition tips to navigate your way through a healthy college career.
Solutions to Your Dining Hall Dilemmas
You have class during meals: Food is the fuel your brain needs to help you think, so make time to eat. If you skip a meal, you may have trouble concentrating, get a headache, or feel like you didn’t get very much out of your class. Even if you can’t sit down for a full meal, pack a healthy portable snack such as fruit, trail mix, or a sandwich.
You’re unsure of healthy choices in the dining hall: Living on campus usually means that the dining hall provides most of your meals. Sometimes choosing good nutrition can be difficult and a little overwhelming when faced with the amount of food and variety in a typical dining hall. Don’t worry, it is possible! Here are some dining hall green light bites to keep mind when heading in for a meal:
- Dining Hall Green Light Breakfast Bites – Start your day off right with a balanced meal incorporating lean protein, whole grains, fruits and/or veggies. Cook-to-order egg-white omelets and scrambles with a side of whole-wheat toast are a great way to get your lean protein, veggies, and whole grains. Be sure to ask the chef to prepare them with very little oil or butter. Other great breakfast choices include fresh fruit, oatmeal (find out how it’s prepared), high-fiber cereal and low-fat or non-fat yogurt.
- Dining Hall Green Light Lunch Bites – Head over to the sandwich line and salad bar and get creative. Try shredded lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, or any other veggies that you like, pile them high on a plate, and top it all off with lean turkey breast slices, ham and/or roast beef. If large lettuce leaves are available, you can turn your lunch into a protein-style feast by wrapping your meat and pickles in them. Yum!
- Dining Hall Green Light Dinner Bites – Dinner is usually when there are the most options available. Be choosy! You don’t have to try a little bit of everything and chances are you will see the item on the menu again. Walk around and look at all of the options available that day before deciding on your meal. Grilled or baked lean protein, like chicken or fish, is always a great option. Just make sure it’s not swimming in oil and/or lots of sauce. If possible, order your sauce on the side and use it sparingly-dip, don’t pour. Then load up the rest of your plate with lots of steamed veggies. If they’re too boring, add spices, hot sauce, mustard, etc.
Dorm Room Food Remedies
Dormitory living can be a challenge when you are making nutritious choices for yourself. With late night study sessions, movies and going out, snacking can be difficult to avoid. Snacking itself isn’t bad, but having healthful snack options on hand can help prevent trips to the vending machines and late night eateries.
Your friends order late night pizza, calzones, and wings: Don’t deny yourself food if you are truly hungry, but don’t over indulge either. Healthy eating is about moderation! If you eat regular meals and free fuel (fresh fruits and veggies) throughout the day, you should feel satisfied. But, remember, it is okay to eat a regular portion of these foods, such 1 slice of pizza, every once in a while.
You have a meal plan, but always get hungry between meals and at night when studying: Keep your room stocked with healthy snacks you can grab when you’re hungry, such as these dorm green light bites:
- Shelf stable items – Whole grain crackers, trail mix, dried fruit, nuts, rice cakes, high fiber cereals, apples, oranges, no sugar added applesauce, reduced fat peanut butter, tuna packets
- Microwaveable items – snack-sized 94% fat-free popcorn, potatoes, oatmeal packets, broth or vegetable based soups, reduced sugar hot cocoa, quick cooking brown rice
- Refrigerator items – skim milk, non-fat yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, low-fat cheese, salsa, hummus, pre-cut vegetables, fresh fruit
Solutions to Your Fitness Dilemmas
An article about eating healthy wouldn’t be complete without nutrition’s partner-in-crime: exercise. Follow these tips and get an “A” in fitness:
- Walk or Bike to Class Be active on the way to class instead of taking the bus or car.
- Join an Intramural Sport This is a fun way to meet new people and fit in exercise, too.
- Go for a Walk with Friends Stay fit and catch up with friends at the same time. Instead of taking a shortcut back to your dorm, take the scenic route and get in a little extra exercise.
- Take a Fitness Class as a Course This is a good way to include fitness into your routine and earn credit. Consider weight lifting or dancing.
- Check out your College Gym Most colleges have gyms or fitness centers that offer free or reduced price memberships. They may also offer classes such as yoga, cardio, kickboxing, and dancing.
There’s something for everyone!
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Monday, August 15th, 2011
While cartoon characters on a cereal box can be a blinding spell that leads kids to believe a particular food actually tastes better, parents are alos not impervious to the food industry’s marketing tactics when it comes to particular health claims, some of which are on children’s cereal boxes.
A recent study by Yale researchers from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity found that parents often misinterpret health claims on children’s cereals, assuming they are more nutritious than they actually are.
Researchers surveyed parents with children between ages 2 and 11, asking them to view pictures of common children’s cereals and say whether the health-related buzzwords on the boxes might influence them to buy the products. While the cereals were of below-average nutritional quality, the boxes featured various nutrition-related health claims including ‘whole grain’, ‘fiber’, and ‘calcium and vitamin D’.
Approximately one-quarter of parents believed that the ‘whole grain’ claim on Lucky Charms® and ‘calcium and vitamin D’ claim on Cinnamon Toast Crunch® meant these cereals were healthier than other children’s cereals.
Being blinded by health claims is very common. The concept is so widespread, that is has been dubbed the health halo effect. The concept of a health halo has been around for several years now, and new studies continue to document the potential downfall.
Remember to always turn the product around and check the nutrition facts panel. Never assume that food product with a “calcium and Vitamin D” health claim is necessarily healthier or lower in calories than a product without a “calcium and Vitamin D” label.
Increased regulation is needed from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to reduce confusion about the nutrition claims, but in the meantime, I have provided a list of common terms often used to describe the level of a nutrient in a food and how they can be used:
- Free. This term means that a product contains no amount of, or only trivial or “physiologically inconsequential” amounts of, one or more of these components: fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugars, and calories. For example, “calorie-free” means fewer than 5 calories per serving, and “sugar-free” and “fat-free” both mean less than 0.5 g per serving.
Take away message: if you eat more than one serving it can all add up!
- Low. This term can be used on foods that can be eaten frequently without exceeding dietary guidelines for one or more of these components: fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and calories. Thus, descriptors are defined as follows:
- low-fat: 3 g or less per serving
- low-saturated fat: 1 g or less per serving
- low-sodium: 140 mg or less per serving
- very low sodium: 35 mg or less per serving
- low-cholesterol: 20 mg or less and 2 g or less of saturated fat per serving
- low-calorie: 40 calories or less per serving.
Take away message: don’t trust the box…..READ THE LABEL!
- Lean and extra lean. These terms can be used to describe the fat content of meat, poultry, seafood, and game meats.
- lean: less than 10 g fat, 4.5 g or less saturated fat, and less than 95 mg cholesterol per serving and per 100 g.
- extra lean: less than 5 g fat, less than 2 g saturated fat, and less than 95 mg cholesterol per serving and per 100 g.
- High. This term can be used if the food contains 20 percent or more of the Daily Value for a particular nutrient in a serving.
- Good source. This term means that one serving of a food contains 10 to 19 percent of the Daily Value for a particular nutrient.
- Reduced. This term means that a nutritionally altered product contains at least 25 percent less of a nutrient or of calories than the regular, or reference, product. However, a reduced claim can’t be made on a product if its reference food already meets the requirement for a “low” claim.
- Less. This term means that a food, whether altered or not, contains 25 percent less of a nutrient or of calories than the reference food. For example, pretzels that have 25 percent less fat than potato chips could carry a “less” claim.
- Light. This descriptor can mean two things:
- First, that a nutritionally altered product contains one-third fewer calories or half the fat of the reference food. If the food derives 50 percent or more of its calories from fat, the reduction must be 50 percent of the fat.
- Second, that the sodium content of a low-calorie, low-fat food has been reduced by 50 percent. In addition, “light in sodium” may be used on food in which the sodium content has been reduced by at least 50 percent.
Take away message: Light doesn’t necessarily mean low in calories, only 50% less than the original. So if the original is very high in fat/calories then the light version may be too!
- More. This term means that a serving of food, whether altered or not, contains a nutrient that is at least 10 percent of the Daily Value more than the reference food. The 10 percent of Daily Value also applies to “fortified,” “enriched” and “added” “extra and plus” claims, but in those cases, the food must be altered.
Healthy. A “healthy” food must be low in fat and saturated fat and contain limited amounts of cholesterol and sodium. In addition, if it’s a single-item food, it must provide at least 10 percent of one or more of vitamins A or C, iron, calcium, protein, or fiber. Exempt from this “10-percent” rule are certain raw, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables and certain cereal-grain products. These foods can be labeled “healthy,” if they do not contain ingredients that change the nutritional profile, and, in the case of enriched grain products, conform to standards of identity, which call for certain required ingredients. If it’s a meal-type product, such as frozen entrees and multi-course frozen dinners, it must provide 10 percent of two or three of these vitamins or minerals or of protein or fiber, in addition to meeting the other criteria. The sodium content cannot exceed 360 mg per serving for individual foods and 480 mg per serving for meal-type products.
The regulations also address other claims. Among them:
- Percent fat free: A product bearing this claim must be a low-fat or a fat-free product. In addition, the claim must accurately reflect the amount of fat present in 100 g of the food. Thus, if a food contains 2.5 g fat per 50 g, the claim must be “95 percent fat free.”
The regulation defines the term “fresh” when it is used to suggest that a food is raw or unprocessed. In this context, “fresh” can be used only on a food that is raw, has never been frozen or heated, and contains no preservatives. (Irradiation at low levels is allowed.) “Fresh frozen,” “frozen fresh,” and “freshly frozen” can be used for foods that are quickly frozen while still fresh. Blanching (brief scalding before freezing to prevent nutrient breakdown) is allowed.
‘X Grams of Whole Grain’
Many consumers equate grams of whole grains with grams of fiber, however, 5 g of fiber is very different from 5 g of whole grains. These claims often appear on products with a sprinkling of whole-wheat flour on top, products that are virtually refined grains.
Take away message: The quantity of fiber grams versus the grams of whole grains is the important number. When in doubt, look to the Whole Grains Council stamp. Foods marked as “excellent sources” contain significant amounts of whole grains.
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Thursday, August 4th, 2011
The U.S. National Library of Medicine estimates that at least one out of five children in the U.S. is overweight. There are several reasons why parents need be concerned over an overweight or obese child. Obese children and adolescents have shown an alarming increase in the incidence of type 2 diabetes, also known as adult-onset diabetes. Many obese children have high cholesterol and blood pressure levels, which are risk factors for heart disease. One of the most severe problems for obese children is sleep apnea (interrupted breathing while sleeping). In some cases this can lead to problems with learning and memory. In addition, obese children have a high incidence of orthopedic problems, liver disease, and asthma.
How to determine if your child is overweight or obese:
A doctor is the best person to determine whether your child has a weight problem. Doctors will measure your child’s weight, height, age and growth patterns to determine if his or her weight is within a healthy range. Based on your child’s height and weight, they will calculate a body mass index (BMI). If your child’s BMI is greater than 95 percent of children their age and gender, they are considered to be overweight.
Why children become overweight:
Genetic factors: Children become overweight for a variety of reasons. The most common causes are genetic factors, lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating patterns, or a combination of these factors. In rare cases, a medical problem, such as an endocrine disorder, may cause a child to become overweight. A careful physical exam and some blood tests will determine if your child is overweight due to this type of problem.
Children whose parents or brothers or sisters are overweight may be at an increased risk of becoming overweight themselves. However, not all children with a family history of obesity will be overweight. Genetic factors play a role in increasing the likelihood that a child will be overweight, but shared family behaviors such as eating and activity habits also greatly influence body weight.
Lifestyle: A child’s total diet and his or her activity level both play an important role in determining a child’s weight. The average American child spends approximately 24 hours each week watching television – time that could be spent in some sort of physical activity.
What parents can do to help:
Be supportive: Overweight children need support, acceptance, and encouragement from their parents. Children’s feelings about themselves often are based on their parents’ feelings about them. It is also important to talk to your children about weight, allowing them to share their concerns with you.
Don’t use food as a punishment or reward: Withholding food as a punishment may lead children to worry that they will not get enough food which may result in overeating. When foods, such as sweets, are used as a reward, children may assume that these foods are better or more valuable than other foods. For example, telling children that they will get dessert if they eat all of their vegetables sends the wrong message about vegetables.
Set a good example: Children are good learners, and they learn best by example. Set a good example for your kids by eating a variety of foods and being physically active. Involve children in food shopping and preparing. Children may be more willing to eat or try foods that they help prepare.
Teach healthy habits: Teaching healthy eating practices early will help children approach eating with the right attitude: Food should be enjoyed and is necessary for growth, development, and for energy to keep the body running. Guide their choices rather than dictate foods. This will help your children learn how to make healthy food choices. Encourage your child to eat slowly. A child can detect hunger and fullness better when eating slowly.
Cut down on fat: Reducing fat is a good way to cut calories without depriving your child of nutrients. Simple ways to cut the fat in your family’s diet include eating lowfat or nonfat dairy products, poultry without skin and lean meats, and low-fat or fat-free breads and cereals. By the time the child is about 5 years old, you should gradually adopt a diet that contains no more than 30 percent of calories from fat.
Healthy snacking: You should make snacks as nutritious as possible, without depriving your child of occasional chips or cookies, especially at parties or other social events. Healthy snacks include: applesauce, carrot sticks with hummus, peanut butter on apples, yogurt, dried fruit, fruit juice popsicles, low fat cheese, etc.
Increase your physical activity: Regular physical activity, combined with healthy eating habits, is the most efficient and healthful way to control your weight. Some simple ways to increase your family’s physical activity include the following: Plan family activities like walking, dancing, biking, or swimming. For example, schedule a walk with your family after dinner instead of watching TV or playing video games. Overweight children may feel uncomfortable about participating in certain activities so it is important to help your child find physical activities that they enjoy and that aren’t embarrassing or too difficult.
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