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National Childhood Obesity Month (Part IV:) Instilling Lifelong Healthy Habits

National Childhood Obesity Month (Part IV:) Instilling Lifelong Healthy Habits

According to the CDC, children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults. In order to stop this disturbing trend, it’s important to instill healthy habits when children are young. The younger they are when introduced to a new habit, the easier it will be for that child to accept and incorporate it into their lives. In order for this to happen, parents must show them the way.

Here are several ways to instill healthy habits into kids that will last a lifetime:

1.No junk food in the house.

One of the easiest things to do is not have any junk food (candy, chips, sodas, etc.) in the house. If your children are young, they have to eat what you buy them. If you don’t buy cookies, they can’t eat cookies. But if you buy apples, that’s what they’ll eat. Some great substitutes for candy and are:

Yogurt

Dark chocolate

Apple sauce

Fruit

Homemade pie made with natural ingredients

2.Show them how it’s done.

Kids are very observant. Many will do whatever they see their parents doing, and that includes their eating habits. If you want your kids to eat healthy, it’s crucial that you do the same. Leading by example is the key. Let them see you snacking on fruit daily. Offer them a piece of your apple or orange so they can see if they like it or not. Let them see you eating vegetables with your dinner every night.

3.Tell them how these foods benefit them, and how some other foods hurt them.

Let your kids know what these foods are doing for them. They may not fully understand, but the seed will be planted for healthy eating habits for when they get older.

Many people don’t know the nutritional benefits of some of the foods we eat. For example, we’ve all heard the phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but do you know why?

Apples improve brain health and diminish the risk of Alzheimer’s

They lower the risk of respiratory disease

Decrease the risk of colon and prostate cancer

Contain 4 grams of soluble fiber

Lowers cholesterol

Cleans the teeth

Not many kids know these things, but if you tell a child how good these foods are for you, they might be inclined to eat more of it, especially if they like it.

In order for this to work, it’s important that the parents be 100% committed to making it successful. That means the parents must eat healthy foods too! As a nation we are getting larger and larger, so it’s not just the kids who will benefit.

4. Tell them WHY they’re eating healthy.

Kids can be brutally honest. They say what’s in their mind at all times. They ask an honest question and expect an honest answer. So, if your child asks why they have to eat broccoli, tell them the truth. Tell them we’re eating it because its good for us. Tell them the junk food isn’t going to help make you big and strong, but foods like broccoli will. Tell them that it’s important to start eating healthy foods now so they will know how to make healthy choices later. Let them know its ok to eat that pierce of cake every now and then, but you have to eat the healthy foods first!

The earlier in age a person starts eating healthy, the easier it will be for them to make the adjustment. The older that child is, the more difficult it may become. It may be a challenge to instill healthy eating habits in our children, but it can be done. Patience is key. The bad habits didn’t start overnight, so we can’t expect the change overnight. Educate your children on the importance of healthy eating today and they will thank you many times over tomorrow.

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