The extra family time spent together during the upcoming spring break can provide parents with opportunities to show their kids how to be healthy. Youth will have a better understanding of the harmful effects of fast overly processed foods, for example, if they see their parents eating less of it. Kids are likely to maintain a healthy weight if their parents are health conscious as well.
Lead your kids by the example you set. There is a strong correlation between obese and overweight kids and adults. We need to create a united front, the battle of the bulge starts at home!
Here are some of my favorite to help parents and kids join together to eat healthier:
- Fast-food restaurants are a part of our society that is here to stay. Consider patronizing restaurants that invest in your health by eating at the establishments that have healthy items such as lean proteins (grilled chicken), whole grains (oatmeal) and fruits/veggies (apples).
- Choose restaurants that make their calorie and macro-nutrient counts visible and are starting to recognize the importance of healthy children. For example, McDonald’s has launched their “new happy meal” that includes a 10 percent reduction in sodium and a reduction in fries from 2.5 to 1.2 ounces.
- Spending time exercising together takes kids away from the television. Images in fast-food commercials make food look especially delicious through animation and vibrant colors, designed to make people hungry.
- Already have your smartphone in your palm 24/7? Download a calorie counter application such as MyFitnessPal or Livestrong. It will only take a few seconds to look up the items on a menu, which will help you make a smart decision.
- Juice is a big culprit for childhood obesity because of the large amount of sugar. Show kids that sugar is not always bad, but give them natural or less refined sugars. Try caffeine-free fruit tea as a juice option.
- Carry snacks while running errands. Almonds are an easy snack with a lot of great nutrients.
- Be sure to eat a nutritious breakfast before a day out on the town. Try to stay away from sugary cereals. Oatmeal is a great option because it can make one less hungry throughout the day and less likely to stop for a treat.
- Do not be influenced by deals if eating at a fast-food restaurant. Diners should not splurge for the large fries, even if it is only 50 cents more, if the smaller serving is their normal choice.
- Keep it simple. Ordering a sandwich or burger without side items like french fries is a much smarter decision.
- Stay away from sauces, which are a source of hidden calories. Also, salad dressing should be ordered on the side to make it easier to control portions.
- Thirst versus hunger. Signals for thirst are similar to those for hunger, but we confuse them. Drink 8 ounces of water and then wait 15 minutes before reassessing hunger. Try carrying a water bottle in the car or while shopping.
- Eating healthy does not mean a higher grocery bill. Most people over-consume, so it seems like they spend more for organic or fresh food. However, eating healthy foods over time will help control appetites, thus reducing shopping lists and expense.