What can parents do to change their children's eating habits?
The younger your child is, the easier it is to introduce healthy eating habits to him/her. It's much more difficult to influence a teenager's diet than that of a young child. However, it's important that you make the effort, no matter what your child's age.
One easy way to to provide a child with a healthy and nutritious diet that does not have an abundance of calories, is to keep healthy choices in your home. This means keeping only minimal amounts of less nutritious foods around such as: soft drinks, cookies, cakes, pastries, potato chips and donuts. Instead of having these types of foods available for snacks, fill your refrigerator with fresh fruit and vegetables, low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese and unsweetened fruit juices. If your child is used to having these foods in the house, they will likely be unhappy at first about the change, but don't back down. You may allow your children to have less healthy choices on special occasions, and in limited amounts
Today, childhood obesity is considered to be an epidemic. A child that is overweight or obese is more likely to develop chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Overweight and obesity in children can also contribute to emotional and psychological problems. As a parent, it is your responsibility to keep your children healthy by providing them a healthy environment at home, as well as other opportunities outside the home for healthy activities in which to participate. This includes providing healthy food options, as well as opportunities for them to be active. If your child is already overweight or obese, it is not too late to help him/her achieve a healthy weight. You can begin by simply keeping healthy snacks available between meals. Some healthy snack ideas are listed below:
- Orange slices
- Apple slices
- Seedless grapes
- Carrot sticks
- Pineapple slices
- Banana chunks
- Unsweetened fruit juice
- Fruit juice spritzer (carbonated natural fruit juice)
- Whole grain crackers with natural peanut butter, cottage cheese or low-fat cheese
- Fiber muffins
- Frozen yogurt bars
- Frozen grapes or blueberries
- Ice creams made from real fruit (strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, etc.)
Offering healthy snacks will begin to pave the road towards reaching your goal of raising a healthy, strong and happy child. Since there are different strategies for weight loss in children, depending on their age and degree of overweight, you do need to work closely with a health care professional if your child is overweight or obese.
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