Posts Tagged ‘kids’
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 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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Friday, July 22nd, 2011
Let’s be honest, most of us could use more vegetables in our diet. In fact, studies show that a mere 27% of adults get the recommended 3 servings of vegetables per day. Kids get even less! A past study found that only 22% of children ages 2-5 met recommendations for vegetable intake, and in children ages 6-11, only 16% met recommendations for vegetable intake. In addition, a recent study found that between a third and a half of all the fruits and vegetables served to youngsters at some school cafeterias last year wound up in the trash. Similar situations are occurring at schools nationwide, as well.
Oftentimes, encouraging the addition of vegetables to one’s diet results in a rolling of the eyes or a patronizing, “Yes mom,” but what if there was an easy way to consume more veggies and lose weight even if you didn’t like the taste of veggies?
A study out of Pennsylvania State University incorporated pureed vegetables into participants’ meals, effectively doubling their fiber intake, lowering the caloric content and adding nutrients without sacrificing taste! Researchers served 41 volunteers breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner on three occasions; each time they provided the same meals, but the main dishes contained different amounts of steamed and pureed carrots, squash, or cauliflower. When given a dish that was 25 percent vegetables compared with one that had none, the participants consumed 360 fewer daily calories on average but reported no differences in hunger, and fewer than half realized that the dishes had been altered. Consuming 360 calories per day less equals roughly a pound of weight lost in just ten days without even dieting!
The cookbook author, Jessica Seinfeld, who has encouraged parents to sneak vegetables into foods like spaghetti, had popularized this strategy. However, it is important to keep in mind, that when serving the foods to young children, you must continue offering whole vegetables on the side so children develop a taste for vegetables.
If you’re striving to help your family live a healthier lifestyle, you’ve probably already made some reduced calorie swaps, like low-fat in place of whole milk or veggie burgers for quarter-pounders, but there may still be some food substitutions that you haven’t tried. I have also included some of my favorite strategies I use to cut calories but keep the taste, including easy ways to add puree vegetables
to your diet:
If I order a salad at a restaurant and none of the dressings seem appealing, I will often ask for a little dish of salsa on the side. This non-traditional topping adds a lot of flavor and is usually less processed than industrial salad dressings.
Buy puree vegetable baby food or frozen vegetable purees and add them to sauces, soups, casseroles and even lean ground beef burgers!
When it comes to baking, the possibilities for cutting down on fat while retaining flavor abound. If a recipe calls for a half-cup of oil, try replacing the oil with canned pumpkin, applesauce, or puréed prunes. Although it sounds a little odd, puréeing dried prunes and a little hot water in your food processor is an easy way to add sweetness and reduce calories in baked goods.
Another favorite baked snack is the onion. Chop an onion into quarters without cutting all the way through in order to create the “blooming” effect. Drizzle on a little olive oil and season with a little salt to taste. Wrap in aluminum foil and roast away! When its done just separate the layers one by one and eat them like chips.
Olive oil is a healthy fat, but you can have too much of a good thing. It’s easy to add two-plus tablespoons of oil while making a stir-fry — and that can add up to 250 calories. Instead, try sauteeing your veggies in a little chicken or veggie broth.
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Friday, July 15th, 2011
The perception surrounding obesity is that it’s caused by a lack of exercise and overeating, however, the condition is often driven by other factors, one of which is bullying. Bullying can spell serious trouble for children’s health. Overweight kids are targeted more frequently, often while in gym class or playing sports, creating a vicious cycle that makes it more difficult for them to lose weight. Adding insult to injury, many times, children who are not good at dealing with their emotions become emotional eaters, as well. These children are also more likely than others to have an ongoing chronic illness later in life, Irish researchers said recently.
The research team used a sample of 8,568 9-year-old children and their families from Growing Up in Ireland — the National Longitudinal Study of Children.
Children completed surveys at school and an interviewer administered questionnaires with parents and children in their homes. The findings revealed that obesity and overweight are of major concern in Irish children with girls being more affected.
Another recent study that examines bullying at a younger age identifies overweight children as the primary target. Researchers at the University of Michigan surveyed 821 children ages 8 to 11. In the third grade, 15 percent of the children were overweight and 17 percent were considered obese. A quarter of the 821 students admitted to being bullied; however, 45 percent of their mothers reported that their child had been bullied for his or her weight. The study included responses from children, parents and teachers.
The odds of being bullied were 63 percent higher for children who were obese than their classmates of a normal weight, researchers noted, and the bullies did not discriminate based on gender or economic status. Overweight boys were just as likely as girls to be bullied by their peers and surprisingly, those with good social skills weren’t spared from the bullying either.
The study findings indicate that parents and teachers not only need to encourage healthy eating habits for young children, but also need to set a good example and refrain from making negative comments about people who are overweight, since children seem to pick up on this attitude at an early age, which results in bullying behavior.
Bullying is not just a situation wherein bigger children push around smaller or weaker kids. Bullying can have serious effects on your child’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. If you notice that your child has been gaining weight, there is also the chance that bullying can be causing this weight gain.
Lack of Physical Activity
A child who is being bullied is less likely to participate in physical activities such as outdoor games and sports. Since bullies are likely to torment him or her outside the home, your child will probably prefer to avoid such situations by spending most of his time indoors. Video games and watching television are common activities that he or she might prefer. Staying indoors most of the time without any physical activity will contribute to your child’s weight gain since they fail to burn calories.
If your child is afraid to join sports or play with other children, try to find other physical activities that he or she might be able to enjoy. For instance, a lot of children find martial arts interesting so you might want to enroll your child in a karate class. Not only will they burn calories with the exercise but their self-esteem will also increase as he or she learns a new skill. You can also make physical activities fun family affairs. Go cycling during the weekend or take a family camping trip.
Eating Comfort Foods to Cope With Emotional Distress
Children are extremely sensitive and less equipped with the tools needed to deal with emotional disturbances like stress and depression. If your child is being bullied at school, it’s inevitable that they will start feeling alone, frustrated, angry and stressed out. In order to deal with these negative feelings, your child may seek temporary comfort by eating junk foods such as candy bars, ice cream, donuts, soft drinks and potato chips. As the bullying worsens, your child may reach the point where he or she is completely dependent on comfort foods.
You can help your child by addressing the root of the problem, which is the bullying itself. It will also help if you take away the sugary and fatty junk foods from your house and replace them with healthier snacks. Most importantly, lend your child a listening ear. Listen to their problems and thoughts patiently and be careful not to add to the problem by lecturing or being argumentative.
Parents – talk to your kids about bullying before they develop bad habits into adulthood. Keeping your kids active and eating healthy will up their self-confidence and teach them the benefits of a healthy lifestyle for years to come.
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Wednesday, May 4th, 2011
Few kids would say they crave a good fiber-rich meal. However, many appetizing foods are actually great sources of fiber — from fruits to whole-grain cereals. Fiber has mounting research that shows we need to have fiber in our diet every day to fight off disease and promote overall well-being. Kids who eat a wide variety of fiber-rich foods will likely continue with this healthy habit later in life, so jump on the bran wagon now!
What is Dietary Fiber?
Fiber is part of the plant food that our body does not digest. You can find dietary fiber in the following plant foods: fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, seeds, nuts and whole grains. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Both are important for a healthy diet.
- Soluble fiber acts like a sponge. It absorbs water in the intestines and forms a gluey gel that picks up cholesterol and carries it out of the body.
- Insoluble fiber acts like a broom because it doesn’t dissolve in water. It adds bulk and softness to the stools and keeps them moving along comfortably preventing constipation.
Fiber has the following health benefits:
- It keeps your child’s intestines working comfortably.
- It protects against constipation when combined with enough water.
- It fills up your child’s tummy so they will be satisfied and not overeat.
- It reduces the risk of many diseases including diabetes and certain cancers.
- It reduces the risk of heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).
How Much Fiber Do Kids Need?
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dietetic Association both recommend a simple rule of thumb: The total number of fiber grams a child should consume each day should equal the child’s age plus 5, starting at age 2. A 6-year-old, therefore, should have 11 grams of fiber a day.
Fiber intake should be increased gradually. This is important to minimize potential adverse side effects such as abdominal distress, bloating, flatulence, cramps and diarrhea. Remember to encourage kids to drink more fluids, especially water, as they eat more fiber.
What Foods Are High in Fiber?
A high-fiber food has 5 grams or more of fiber per serving and a good source of fiber is one that provides 2.5 to 4.9 grams per serving. Here’s how some fiber-friendly foods stack up:
Lentils, cooked (1 cup) = 15.6 grams dietary fiber
Artichoke, cooked (1 medium) = 10.3 grams dietary fiber
Raspberries (1 cup) = 8 grams dietary fiber
Pear (1 medium) = 5 grams dietary fiber
How to Boost Your Child’s Fiber Power
Help your child meet their daily fiber needs, by gradually increasing fiber in their diet with the following tips:
- Choose 100% whole grain cereals for breakfast
- Have cut up fruit in the cereal or as a side dish
- Use 100% whole grain bread, rolls, wraps, or pita for sandwiches
- Add fresh fruit and/or vegetables with low fat dipping sauces
- Add a small bag of nuts or seeds in with their lunch
- Replace white rice, white bread and white pastas with brown rice and whole grain products
- Include a fruit or vegetable salad with the skin on
- Add seeds and nuts to liven up the salads
- Replace a side dish with dried peas or beans
- Make a pizza by topping a whole wheat tortilla with pizza sauce, low fat cheese and vegetables
- Toss in extra vegetables in home-made or low sodium canned soups
- Offer a bowl of air-popped or low fat popcorn
- Make a baggie of 100% whole grain crackers
Changing your child’s diet should be a positive experience. Explain to them why fiber is important for the whole family to feel healthy. You don’t want to get upset and frustrated with your child if they don’t want to try higher fiber foods. Just be positive with your encouragement and keep introducing higher fiber foods.
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Wednesday, April 27th, 2011
“Mom, can I have a triple-scoop ice cream cone, pretty please?” If you answered yes to this question, you might be teaching your child portion distortion. A study, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, adds support to the recommendation of offering kids smaller-sized servings. Researchers from Pennsylvania State University served five-year-old kids small, medium, and large portions of macaroni and cheese. The more macaroni and cheese the five-year-olds were offered, the more they ate.
Whopping portion sizes are a huge culprit in why people overeat, but if you teach your children about appropriate portion sizes, they may be more likely to stick to healthy portions into adulthood.
Here are a few tips on how you can help your child downsize their portions and get a better value on her health:
Kids Love Magic, so be an Illusionist!
Marketers have created jumbo-sized cups and plates to match the portions we are accustomed to seeing in restaurants. Dinner plates have increased in size from a standard 10-inch to 12-inch and larger, so today normal portions look miniscule on a larger plate. The solution is to put meals on smaller plates so that the portion appears larger.
Divide and Conquer Portion Distortion
Divide snacks into small portions, instead of sending your child off to snack with the whole bag. Remember those five-year-olds who ate more macaroni and cheese based on being offered larger portions, well the same rule applies here.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Serve food away from the table, which may limit family members from going back for seconds. Plate the food and leave the serving bowls off the table because, typically, when food is within reach, we eat more and it has nothing to do with hunger but because it tastes good or because it is in front of us.
Add Healthy ‘Extras’ to Your Meals
When you boost the proportion of fruits, vegetables, and herbs in your dishes, you naturally cut calories while adding nutrition and flavor. Fruit and vegetables have a high fiber and water content and therefore you can eat a larger, more filling portion without lots of calories.
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Wednesday, April 20th, 2011
For years, we’ve been told to drink eight glasses of water a day. The eight-glass recommendation is based on the standard 2,000 calorie diet. The idea is that for every calorie burned, people should drink 1 milliliter of water- and 2,000 milliliters is the equivalent of eight cups. However, when it comes to children, their calorie intake and activity level varies, therefore, eight glasses of water might be appropriate for some, but not for others. The question is how much water is right to keep your child well hydrated? Don’t sweat it, read further to find out!
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children drink six glasses of water on an average day. During activity, however, your child can lose up to a half-liter of fluid per hour. The AAP suggests about 5 ounces (or two kid-size gulps) of water or a sports drink every 20 minutes for an 88-pound child. Kids and teens weighing about 132 pounds should drink 9 ounces.
Be Ahead of the Game
Don’t wait until your child is thirsty to offer refreshment; by that time he or she is already dehydrated. Symptoms of dehydration for kids can include fatigue, dry lips and tongue, extremely flushed cheeks, no urination and sunken eye sockets.
Three studies by the University of Connecticut found that more than half of the children at sports camps were significantly dehydrated despite the availability of water and sports drinks and the encouragement to drink liquids.
Get your child in the habit early on by scheduling frequent beverage breaks during activity, about every 20 minutes or so in hot weather. Another tactic in keeping kids well hydrated is to make a healthy beverage and snack part of the after-activity celebration or cool down. Toast the efforts or success of the team to encourage your little athletes to drink the necessary quantities for good health.
You Can Bring a Child to the Water…
Studies have shown that children routinely prefer flavored beverages to plain water and will drink up to 90 percent more when it is offered to them. Sports drinks also replace electrolytes lost from the body through sweating. Such beverages should be limited to use during athletic competitions or active play on a hot day, as they are generally high in carbohydrates and calories. Hydrating can include beverages and foods besides water, such as 100% fruit juice and low fat milk. However, if your goal is weight loss you should avoid soda, juice and sport drinks that are high in calories. Sports drinks were designed for elite athletes who need to replenish calories and electrolytes quickly.
When choosing drinks for kids, avoid those that have caffeine, such as iced tea or many sodas. As a diuretic, caffeine can contribute to the dehydration process by increasing fluid loss. In addition, as a stimulant, it can depress the symptoms of dehydration.
Children can also quench their thirst and keep cool with ice pops. Make your own by mixing 100 percent juice with water. Or offer fruits with a high water content, like melons, peaches, and grapes; the vitamins and minerals are a bonus!
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Wednesday, April 13th, 2011
Making exercise a priority is a challenge for everyone. For parents it can be difficult to find time to workout because of the full plates that they often juggle, whereas for many kids, biking to the playground and playing kickball in the backyard have given way to watching television, playing video games and spending hours online.
Wonder how much physical activity is enough? Consider these guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services:
- Kids. Children and adolescents age 6 and older need at least an hour a day of physical activity. Most of the hour should be either moderate or vigorous aerobic activity. In addition, children should participate in muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activities at least three days a week.
- Adults. Most healthy adults need at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking or swimming, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running — preferably spread throughout the week. Adults also need strength training exercises at least twice a week.
The big question is how to make physical activity a priority that fits into your busy schedules. Well, it’s actually easier than you may think. With a little planning you can find ways to incorporate physical activity into the time you spend with your children. Here are some tips to help you and your kids to get moving!
First and Foremost, Set a good example
A parent’s active lifestyle can be a powerful stimulus to their child. Therefore, if you want an active child, be active yourself. For example, relive recess and invite your family to play catch or join you on a walk. Be sure to talk about physical activity as an opportunity to take care of your body, rather than a punishment or a chore.
Limit Screen Time
A surefire way to increase you and your child’s activity level is to limit the number of hours spent in front of a screen — including television, video games and online activities. If your child plays video games, opt for those that require movement and join in on the game. Wii and X Box 360 Kinect have fun, action packed games for the entire family, such as, Wii Sports Resort, Family Party: Fitness Fun, Kinect Sports, and Just Dance.
Establish a routine
Set aside time each day for physical activity. Get up early with your child to walk the dog, take a walk together after dinner, or make Saturdays or Sundays family bike outing or rollerblading day. Start small, gradually adding new activities to the routine as you — and your child — become more fit.
Promote Activity, Not Exercise
To keep your child interested in physical activity, make it fun:
- Get in the game. Play catch, get the whole family involved in a game of tag or have a jump-rope contest. Try classic movement games such as Simon Says or Red Light, Green Light (my personal preference!).
- Try an activity party. For your child’s next birthday, schedule a bowling party, take the kids to a climbing wall or set up relay races outside.
- Give the gift of activity. Offer activity-related equipment, games or outings as gifts and rewards — both for your child and others.
- Make A Splash- For pool outings, don’t just spend time soaking up the sun. Walk back and forth in shallow water while your kids have fun splashing about or challenge your kids to a race across the pool.
- Shop it off – Your teens will love this idea, plus you’ll torch approximately 11 calories for every outfit you try on.
- Do the Dirty Work- Have your kids help you clean the yard, wash your car, or go grocery shopping. It will lessen your workload while also getting the kids off the couch and into good habits!
Exercise along with a balanced diet provides the foundation for a healthy, active life. One of the most important things parents can do is encourage healthy habits in their children early on in life. It is never too late to start getting fit fast!
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Monday, April 11th, 2011
Are You Underestimating Your Child’s Weight?
As America’s population becomes more and more overweight, people may develop a distorted perception of what is deemed a healthy weight. This is precisely what USA Today reported on when revealing the results from a recent study performed at Columbia University Medical Center in New York.
Researchers asked 111 women and 111 children questions about their age, income and body size, and also measured their height and weight. They were asked to identify their body shapes based on silhouettes representing underweight, normal weight, overweight, and obesity. Researchers found that many overweight mothers and their offspring were not as svelte as they thought:
- 82 percent of obese mothers and 43 percent of overweight mothers underestimated their weight.
- 86 percent of overweight or obese children underestimated their weight, while only 15 percent of normal-sized kids did.
- 48 percent of mothers of obese or overweight children thought their children’s weight was normal.
- 13 percent of normal-weight mothers underestimated their weight.
These findings imply that those who are most affected by obesity are either unaware or underestimate their true weight. The study data show the need for health-care providers to educate patients about the dangers of excess body weight. Strategies to overcome the obesity epidemic will need to address body image misperception.
Parents may not have “weight management” on their minds as they look at their active, yet overweight kids. This is why at Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right, parents are educated on identifying overweight children. This is extremely important as overweight children are at risk of developing serious health problems once reserved for adults, like Type II diabetes and heart disease. Early intervention is key, before a child’s nutritional and exercise habits are set and when it’s easier for them to lose weight.
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Monday, April 4th, 2011
While they might not realize it, parents play a huge role in their children’s eating and exercise habits. Kids are still spending most of their time at home and eating most meals at home. Parents buy and prepare food, and decide what and how much kids can eat. They are responsible for providing opportunities for children to be active and can set rules for TV and video game use.
With obesity increasingly becoming a critical medical problem in children, parents need to step up to the plate. In the United States, a whopping 17 percent of children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years are obese, as per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but mom and dad, don’t fret.
According to a study recently published in medical journal Pediatrics, diet and exercise programs with parental involvement, parent and child centered program, are the best way to help kids stay trim and fit.
The study involved 165 overweight children between ages 6 to 10 years old, who were randomly assigned to one of three interventions: a diet program taught to parents by dietitians that focused on goal setting, problem solving and positive reinforcement from parents; an activity program for kids taught by physical education teachers, with parents taking part early on and encouraged to do more at home with their kids; and a combination of the two programs, with parents and children both participating.
Children in all three groups reduced their body mass index and waist circumference after two years, with the diet program and the combination program yielding better results than the activity program.
Therefore, parents’ input might actually be necessary to see results. They can be trained to be effective agents of change where management of obesity in children is concerned. After the study, parents reported feeling more comfortable saying “no” to their children’s demands, setting limits on the type of food the children could eat, limiting the amount of time they spent watching TV or playing video games, and establishing consequences for breaking the rules.
This study shows that interventions that target parents alone may be an effective and non-stigmatizing strategy for achieving effective weight loss in obese children. Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right’s child and parent centered program utilizes this strategy, and enables parents and children to make the right food choices and have fun eating healthy, wholesome meals. Power to the parents, you can do it!
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