Childhood obesity has become such an epidemic that the topic has even caught the attention of the First Lady. From nutrition policies in schools to after school programs based on physical education, childhood obesity has become one of the largest health crisis’ in the country. As early onset diabetes and other health problems are direct results of childhood obesity.
Many of these issues can be traced directly to long-term health risks that accompany a person throughout their life. However, there is hope! With the proper mindset, resources and tools you can begin to develop fun healthy habits to help your young ones easily shed those extra pounds.
Setting Good Habits
The first line of defense against childhood obesity begins in the home where the virtues of both exercise and eating well are instilled at an early age. Here are a few ways to avoid childhood obesity in your family by creating patterns that they can follow for an entire lifetime of healthy living.
What is of primary importance is building strong habits over time that will begin to feel like natural instinct. Healthy habits can be developed really early on where what a child does for fun often develops out of the activities that are encouraged between the parent and the child.
This means that if a Dad focuses on eating potato chips and watching television every Saturday, then this is exactly the behavior the child will find natural as they get older. If, on the other hand, you make regular gym exercise the focus of shared household activities, then you will find that your child will naturally feel the need to remain healthy.
How to Kickstart your Child’s Weightloss
A new trend to answer this question is to provide small kids with their own exercise equipment that they can use to model what their parents and older mentors do. Exercise bikes, treadmills, rowing machines, and a variety of other equipment types have models that are perfect for their age range, even down to just three or four years old.
These types of at home fitness equipment are often primarily for a child to learn the behavior. Practicing on something like the child-sized treadmill can be an easy way to keep them moving while they lounge indoors. The toddler-sized exercise bikes are great when set next to your exercise bike, allowing the children and parents to work out together. This sets the trend and will increase the chances for them to continue this behavior as they get older.
More than just engaging in a regular workout regimen, integrating physical activities for recreation is going to be important at an early age. Bring home a basketball hoop that they can use in the driveway to encourage physical fun on a regular basis, and make sure to volunteer to play these games with your child from time-to-time. This will put a physical activity on the menu instead of letting the child resort strictly to things like video games.
If you start the connection to fun forms of physical exertion then your kids will want to continue these activities into their teenage years. It will also be one of the primary ways that they avoid those extra pounds and set themselves up for a stable and efficient cardiovascular system. You could also try getting them hooked on unique activities, such as impressing people by riding a unicycle. Getting a trampoline is a classic, and can be a great way to bring people together while keeping the whole family fit. The same can be true of family hiking and camping trips.
It may also be good to begin introducing significant lifestyle changes that take a look at health and wellness holistically through a mind and body connection. Yoga and Pilates are a great way to focus on whole body health, and can be great for things like reducing the chance of injuries and chronic neck and back pain. Try starting a slow and steady yoga regimen with your kids by getting them a beginner’s kit, and then eventually working up to ball and mat-based exercises. Core strength, flexibility, and general muscle tone are all going to help to reduce taking on extra weight.
If you are looking to extend the physical activity even further, then the best way to do this is to enroll them in structured activities or classes. Gymnastics and martial arts are both incredibly popular right now, and what is nice is you can bring their practice at home by turning an empty space in the home into your own little studio. This is incredibly easy when using a high-quality gymnastic mat so that they can practice routines, or generally have a space to be physical in that allows for some cushion and support.
Team sports are also an obvious solution but try really observing where your child’s interest are so that you can try to find something that they will be excited about and voluntarily continue throughout their youth and even into their adult years as a point of fitness.
Poor dietary options are one of the primary reasons that younger kids are experiencing a rise in average BMI and increased rates of illness. This often comes from the consumption of fast-food in the busy household lifestyle, as well as the lack of access to quality food for many low-income families. Many people are now looking for dietary goals and restrictions that can reflect a more consistent healthy diet to avoid obesity.
Should I Consider a Vegetarian or Vegan Lifestyle?
The whole foods, plant-based diet has become popular and is a great way of avoiding processed foods, having nutrition dense meals, and creating eating patterns for the family. Oftentimes parents go adopt a vegetarian diet, thinking that this will automatically be healthier. While it is healthy, in many ways, you should note that you often have to up the heavy dairy intake and this alone can continue weight gain and further increase a person’s cholesterol.
Vegan diets are again easier to reduce caloric intake, but require much more work to create tasty dishes because you are no longer relying on the strong flavors of dairy and animal fat. What is often best is to strike a balance; focusing on green vegetables and fruits, lowering the amount of meat your family consumes, and switching to lean meat and fish when possible. A great way to get kids excited about healthy meals is to actually invite them into the kitchen to cook with you, which also develops a useful skill for them and starts the habit of cooking meals in the home.
Fighting childhood obesity can be done by consistently eating with the family and developing great eating habits. That way you can control the type and the quality of the food that you consume. It will also help to instill more nutritious eating by slowing down the pace at which we eat. You should avoid both eating too fast and eating while multitasking. This can be incredibly difficult for working families that have different schedules, but it is one of the most important things to do to maintain family cohesion. One way to do this is to make it fun and try to have occasional outdoor “party” meals. Don’t be afraid to turn the backyard into another area where you and your family can enjoy meals together next to your barbecue. This and other outdoor furniture can be found on our online store at Aosom.com