Kudos to Michelle Obama for bringing increased public awareness to the issue of childhood obesity. It is estimated that the percentage of obese children in the United States has tripled in the past thirty years. The affect it's having on children's self esteems and productivity is hard to measure, but the impact on the health care system is clear and dramatic.
So what can we do as Moms to help our children stay healthy and fit? I personally do not believe in pushing children into rigorous weight loss plans or diets unless supervised by a doctor in extreme circumstances. But we can certainly incorporate healthier lifestyles in our homes. Here are just a few ideas that are easy to implement starting today:
1) Replace the sugary snacks with healthier choices. Whole grain bagels or carrot sticks. Fruit with yogurt dip. Cheese sticks and granola bars. The kids will eat whatever is fast and on hand, so it's up to us to make sure that better options are available in the pantry.
2) Get outside in the fresh air. Have the kids help with yard work. Take the dog for a walk. Go for a family bike ride.
3) Turn off the TV and video games, and encourage physical activity instead. Organize a basketball or kickball game in the cul-de-sac. Put up wooden swing sets in the backyard with monkey bars and climbing walls so the kids get some exercise while playing and having fun.
4) Set a good example for them to follow. I am surprised how often my children will join in with me while I am doing my workouts. My son even ran a 5k with me once. It was amazing to share that experience together.
5) Try as often as you can to cook healthy meals at home instead of grabbing take out or frozen prepared meals. Not only are you providing better nutrition, but the family dinner table discussion time is priceless too.
6) Sign them up for school or community sports or martial arts programs. They get to learn new skills and make friends. Better yet volunteer to coach the team so you can be involved too!
Talk to your kids about nutrition and fitness. Make sure they understand that these are important priorities for you and that you want them to be healthy because you love them. If you instill these principles and habits in them while they are young just think of the troubles you can help them avoid later on down the road. So let's get our families moving!! It's good for you and a lot of fun too.