How important are diet and exercise for children? Kids will be kids right, so if you don’t really teach them about it they’ll find a way to do it anyway? As a parent it can be tricky to find a good way to help your child maintain a healthy diet and get them to exercise without hounding them about their weight. The thing with diet and exercise for children is that it doesn’t have to be anything extremely structured. A child doesn’t have to go to the “gym” to work out and exercise; they might just need some helpful suggestions. Here are some tips to maintaining a healthy diet for your child and ways to get them physically active.
Tip #1: Provide some healthy and fun snacks
Some children will go straight for the pantry and pull out the cookies or a bag of chips because that’s what’s there for them to eat. If you can stop them before they make it to the pantry by providing them with alternative healthy snacks that you have already prepared you can help them maintain a healthier diet. It starts with the parents so another suggestion would be to stop buying those unhealthy snacks all together and stick with dried fruit, crackers, fruits, and other healthy choices.
Tip #2: Turn the television off during meal times
It has been proven that when the television is on during meal times you actually eat more than you would had it not been on in the first place. Why? Well, you’re not really paying attention to the food you’re putting in your mouth and how much you’re putting in your mouth for that matter, so you tend to overeat. When there are no other distractions at the dinner table you tend to eat the right amount of food without getting too much in your stomach. Besides the overeating factor, meal times can be one of the best times to discuss things that have gone on during the day so don’t let the television take away family time.
Tip #3: Encourage children to get out and be active
There are so many different ways for children to be active today, but physical fitness and exercise seems to be a lost art. Get them involved in some extra curricular activities or something with the city; soccer, baseball, gymnastics, etc. You might have to do some research in the area to find out what’s being offered but your child will thank you for it. Physical fitness can raise a child’s self esteem and help keep their metabolism running the way it should. It helps burn fat and can relieve stress. As a parent it’s important to encourage physical activity and exercise in every way you can; this includes you setting the example. Children will follow the behavior of their parent so set a good example by walking somewhere instead of driving, going to the gym, or just by playing outside with your child.
Tip #4: Teach them about the food pyramid
Don’t think that if you don’t teach them about healthy and unhealthy foods they’ll just learn it at school or from somewhere else. It’s not someone else’s job to teach them about good and bad foods. Take time each day when you’re eating meals to talk about what you’re eating and which foods fit in to which food guide pyramid square. You don’t have to make it a huge deal but teaching them about what foods are good for them can help them be more aware of what they’re eating.
Maintaining a healthy diet with exercise for children is the best way to start decreasing the childhood obesity rates and to keep our children healthy and alive much longer.