Wednesday, June 20, 2012

We Need to Start Thinking About Our Kids' Health

Okay, so maybe most of you reading this are not parents yet, but you probably will be someday. And the world is constantly changing causing kids to be less and less active. I love the approach Michelle Obama is taking in trying to get children healthy in America, but we also need to extend this thinking to the rest of the world. The US may currently be struggling with child obesity issues, but the outlook is that this will spread to the rest of the world soon. This is why we should be building a healthy lifestyle now so that we can control this epidemic (Yes, I just called it an epidemic).

So whether you have kids, are thinking about having kids, or see kids somewhere in your future, what are some basic things you can do to help your kids build a healthy mentality?

Get them involved in sports: It's not that you're trying to make them the next Ronaldo or Serena Williams (although that wouldn't hurt), but it helps them build the active mentality, as well as body coordination and teaming. It could be at school or it could be simply organizing play dates that involve a ball and your backyard.
Change how you reward them: If you give your child a twinkie every time he/she does well in school, that would be what your child will work for. Rather, reward your child with a trip, a hangout with friends, a theme park visit, or anything that involves physical activity.
Keep healthy snacks at home: This is just as much for you as it is for your child. If you see a ton of carrots at home, you'd eat carrots when you need a snack. In fact, you'd become creative with your snacking. However, on the other hand, if all you have is ice-cream and cookies, when your body is craving energy, that is what you'd reach for. With your kids, when you're tired, and they are bugging you (kids do do that), you'd probably reach for what's closest to quiet them. If what's closest is a cookie, then... you get my point. Make them familiar with healthy options.
Take a walk with your kids: Some of the best times I spent with my dad in my teenage years was when we would just take a walk somewhere and talk. Who knew we were also keeping our bodies moving in the process? Well, my dad probably knew. Create an excuse for you to move with your child. It could be walks, it could be sports you play together, or it could even be gardening.
Make food time table time: A lot of families nowadays find that dinner time is TV time. However, this has been shown to make people unconsciously eat more because your eating would be based on your emotions triggered by what it is you are watching. Set the table instead. Let dinner time be family time. I know this is difficult with our crazy work schedules, but try to make it a habit to sit down at the table to eat. We already rush through lunch most of the time.
Set a good example: Lastly, however you choose to help your kids become healthier, nothing affects your kids mentality more than watching you. Make healthy decisions yourself and your kids will probably learn to make healthy decisions. Do some of your workouts at home so they understand what it means to move and sweat, or set a schedule where your kids see you dress up and go to the gym so they understand that it is important to you.

Are there any other strategies you have for keeping kids healthy? Are there any you now realize your parents used on you?

Cheers Eights & Weights!

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