The extra kilos put children in risk of developing serious health problemssuch as diabetes, heart disease, and asthma. Childhood obesity also has an emotional toll, it can lead to low self-esteem, negative body image and even depression, according to the organization HelpGuide.
It is not about putting children on a diet but about helping them to have a healthy nutrition that favors their physical and mental development while helping them avoid being overweight.
How to help children eat healthy?
Be a role model
Talk to your child about healthy foods while you are eating them.
Cook healthy in front of your children
Tell them what you are doing and how it benefits the body. Let it help you while you cook, in activities that are appropriate for their age.
Schedule regular times for meals
If children know that they will only get food at certain times, they will be more likely to consume the food.
Feed them rainbows
Serve a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. This should include red (beets, tomato), orange (carrots, squash), yellow (mangoes, bananas), green (avocado, broccoli, spinach), etc.
Most children over 4 years old need at least 1½ cups of fruit and 1½ to 2½ cups of vegetables a day.
Some options are frozen grapes, vegetable skewers or frozen yogurt with strawberries. Serve raw vegetables like baby carrots, celery and cucumbers and cooked like broccoli or steamed cauliflower.
Avoid giving them sugary box cereals
Many boxed breakfast cereals are high in added sugar. Offer healthy options such as oatmeal, fresh fruit, high-fiber, low-sugar whole grains, and low-fat milk instead of sugary cereals, donuts, or toasted pastries.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests offering children simple but nutritious and healthy things like scrambled eggs, with cheese and tomato sauce wrapped in an omelette; plain yogurt without added sugar to which you can add whole grains, fruit and unsalted nuts. He also advises teach children to make their own smoothie.
Limit juices and sodas
Soft drinks and fruit drinks contain added sugars that could be displacing nutritious drinks. A juice can have the same amount of sugar as a soda. Limit juices to one small glass a day. Instead, it offers Water and natural milk.
Avoid processed meats
Avoid processed meats like ham, salami, bacon, mortadella, and hot dogs. They are high in sodium and have negative health effects.
Don’t ban food or use it as a reward
Ban food alone increases a child’s desire for that food. Opt for limit serving size. Avoid using food as a reward for good behavior, you can choose stickers or allow the child to invite a friend to play.
When you eat out, choose responsibly
When you go to a restaurant, look for nutritious and healthy options, whether you order take-out or home delivery.
Eat without screens
Eating without being distracted by screens helps children focus on your food. Ask them what it feels like to be very hungry, a little hungry, comfortably full, and uncomfortably full. Tell them the importance of listening to internal body signals.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that there is no television in the children’s rooms to reduce screen time and promote healthy sleep habits. Better sleep helps them maintain a healthy weight and do better in school.
Do physical activities as a family in which the children can join.
Set limits on times of watching television, as well as the use of tablets and video games. It also helps that you don’t spend too much time in front of the TV, either. Involve the children in the activities you are doing.
Avoid restrictive diets and excessive exercise regimens. Before putting a child on a diet, consultation with a doctor and registered dietitian is required.
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