If you’ve followed the news on childhood obesity lately, you know the state of affairs is pretty grim.
Childhood obesity rates have tripled over the past two decades, and most signs point to the next generation being the first whose life expectancy will be shorter than their parents. If these facts didn’t make you stop and think that something is drastically wrong I don’t know what will.
Much of the blame for this trend has deservedly been laid at the feet of the producers and marketers of unhealthy food aimed at our youngest consumers, whose parents face an uphill battle: trying to pit fresh, healthy foods devoid of mascots or sidekicks against superheroes and cartoon animals in a struggle to tempt their children’s palates and stomachs.
Since most kids have hummingbird metabolisms that adults can only envy, it’s often easy to give them a free pass and let them eat whatever they want. But eventually those metabolisms slow down and the kilos settle in. Also, as physical activity decreases and processed food intake increases annually, kids aren’t burning calories the way their parents might have when they were their age.
Sedentary lifestyles have seen activity for many children these days equate to changing the battery on their PS3. Generation X and earlier spent their hours running, climbing and skipping their days away. These were the days before computers, technology and social media communication chained our kids to their rooms.
Even if the kids aren’t getting fat, they are establishing eating habits they’ll take into adulthood. As parents, you can help foster a love for healthy eating and exercise that will last your kids a lifetime—hopefully a long one!
Eating can so often be a classic power struggle where kids try to finally locate their mum and dad’s last nerve. (I can remember family dinners with my brother and parents that could teach Hezbollah a thing or two about standoffs.) There are a number of strategies you can use to mitigate this type of deadlock.
One is to let your kids help with the selection and preparation of the food. If they picked out the veggies at the farmers’ market and helped cook them, they might be less inclined to feed them to the family pet. Another is to frame eating vegetables and healthy food as being its own reward. Otherwise, by offering dessert as a reward for finishing vegetables, you create a system where unhealthy food is a treat and healthy food sucks.
Utilise a small area in the backyard and help the kids make a veggie patch. From the time the first seedling sprout from the ground a brilliant fascination with these living growing vegetables occurs. If they see the fruits (bad pun) of their labour in the garden growing with their nurturing hands, their resistance to eating vegetables decreases tenfold.
What do you want your kids to teach your grand children about food? Give them the best chance of living a healthy lifestyle and in turn educating their children to end the obesity generation.
Natasa Denman is The Ultimate Weight Loss Coach! She is the founder of her company Ultimate Weight Loss. Her passion and expertise lies in human behaviour and mindset. She specialises in helping women Lose The Last 10 Kilos.
Natasa’s motto is: No Excuses, Take Action, Focus and Just One More! After all, there are two times in life, now and too late…
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