10 Lifestyle Changes for Family Health
Childhood obesity is at an all-time high in America, while the overall nutritional value of school lunches continues to plummet. How can parents help to control their children's weight and diet? How can a family dinner be a learning environment to teach proper nutrition?
Here are 10 simple remedies and lifestyle changes for families. I suggest parents try to lead by example and create a healthy eating environment so kids will pick up better eating habits and make better choices on their own. Simply adopting one or two small and positive lifestyle changes from the following top 10 list will elicit long-term results that will help you and your family eat better.
1. Structure Your Family's Eating
Although hectic schedules can present challenges, don't give up on the idea of family dinners. Discourage eating on the run and random snacking. Instead, establish routines for breakfast, lunch, dinner and after-school snacks.
2. Offer a Choice of Several High-Fiber, Low-Sugar Breakfast Cereals with Milk (Skim or 1 Percent Fat) and/or Fruit
Check the nutrition information on the box and avoid cereals high in sugar. Oatmeal, raisin bran, fat-free granola, Cheerios and shredded wheat are good choices. If your child is used to sugary cereals, gradually mix in healthier cereals while reducing the proportion of the sweeter stuff.
3. Don't Try to Forbid Fast Food or Junk Food
Consider them as treats to be enjoyed occasionally, but not in place of regular meals or snacks. If you need to keep cookies in the house, limit the number of choices and try to buy single-serving packages so there is less temptation to overindulge. Substitute healthier choices whenever possible -- a child offered nonfat frozen yogurt is unlikely to miss high-fat ice cream.
4. Reduce the Number of Distractions While Your Child Is Eating
Turn off the TV. Discourage eating while playing computer or video games.
5. Minimize Consumption of Sugary Sodas and Fruit Juices
The calories in soft drinks have no nutritional value and don't abate hunger. While eating an apple or grapes reduces hunger, drinking an apple or grape juice doesn't.
6. Serve Reasonably Sized Portions
If he or she is still hungry, they can ask for seconds. If you misjudge and serve too much, save the excess for leftovers. Don't encourage the child to eat the food to avoid wasting it.
7. Don't Use Food as a Reward
Don't use one food as a reward for eating other foods. Don't offer food as a reward for an accomplishment. Conversely, don't use food to placate. If your child is feeling sad, tend to the emotions, not the appetite.
8. Don't Buy Toys That Glorify Junk Food
9. Cook New Foods Together
Encourage your child to help in the kitchen preparing food. And don't assume that just because your child didn't like it the first time, they might not ever have it again. Try another day.
10. Monitor Your Child's School Lunches