With the media's portrayal of rail-thin models and diet-obsessed Hollywood celebrities, raising healthy children is often like swimming upstream. On one hand, there’s immense pressure to conform and do whatever it takes to be thin. On the other hand, being healthy and fit shouldn’t mean that you throw caution to the wind and put your children through a rigorous training and diet regime. And worse, experts report that childhood obesity continues to rise.
Common sense prevails when it comes to raising healthy children. Experts agree that by implementing practices within the family that encourage a good attitude towards health results in well-rooted habits that inform children’s habits and practices—well into adulthood. So take it one step at a time, and implement changes in habits that get lasting results.
Here are some tips for raising health children:
- Realize you’re going against the norm. Your children’s peers may not share your values, and that’s okay. Instead of putting your children in a difficult position—pleasing you OR their peers—give them permission to indulge on occasion.
- Teach your children about portion size. Offer praise when they choose a donut hole instead of a donut. Insist they use small containers to dole out snacks, and if they’re still hungry, to choose a fruit or veggie next.
- Introduce new foods. The next time you notice your local grocer displaying a new fruit, buy it. Then, make a big deal about how interesting the food is and let everyone try a bite. Know that your children may not like new foods at first. It may take 10 tries—or more—until they become used to its taste.
- Encourage an active lifestyle. Don’t go Biggest Loser on your children. They don’t have the mental capacity to withstand a strict training regimen or shouting. Instead, adopt an active lifestyle by parking as far away as possible from stores, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and playing sports with your children. Encourage them to become actively involved in sports, too—even recreational sports opportunities help kids stay active.
To be successful raising healthy children, you have to make it happen for them. Use these tips, and develop a strategic approach to health, making sure healthy foods are readily available in your home, and being a good example for your children, too.