There is often a lot of talk in the media about childhood obesity and the fact that kids are less fit and healthy than they used to be. This can be worrying for parents, especially as there is a lot of pressure on parents to do the right thing for their children. There are things that you can do though, which will hopefully encourage children to be fitter and healthier.
Teach them the Benefits from a Young Age
If you want children to live a healthy lifestyle then it is never too early to start. However, it is easier to start at an early age. If they do not know any differently, then a healthy lifestyle will just come naturally to them. Kids take more notice of their parents when they are younger and when they become teenagers, they generally think they know more than their parents! However, there are things you can try, at any age which should help them to start good healthy habits where eating and exercise is concerned. They are likely to get taught some things in school, but you will need to reinforce that at home as well.
Provide them with Healthy Food Options
Having healthy food options available all of the time can encourage children to eat those things, especially if there is not junk food available to them. Therefore, have plenty of fruit, plain nuts, seeds, wholegrain sugar-free cereals, vegetables etc can be really helpful. If they are not used to this sort of food, then you may need to introduce things slowly. It can be good to try different approaches. Perhaps, only letting them have some junk food if they eat something healthy first or buying them lots of things to try to see what they like. You could take them shopping with you so that they can choose things they would like to try. They could also look through recipes to pick healthy items.
Do not Buy Junk Food
It can be tricky getting into the habit of not buying junk food. It is convenient and tasty and so you may enjoy it as much as them. You will need to stop eating it though, if you expect them not to eat it. Try to avoid that aisle completely in the supermarket and do not go in shops that sell only junk food so avoid sweet shops, take aways and that sort of thing. It can be best not to keep any in the house at all and then you are not tempted by it. So, if you really want some, you will have to make the effort to go out and buy it and that could put you off. You could also only buy it if you walk to the shop, which will make it more difficult to do!
Exercise with Them
It can be tricky encouraging kids to exercise but even more so if you do not do it with them. If they are young walk them to school, go for cycle rides with them and walk to the shops. There are lots of free videos online that you can use to do aerobics, dancing, yoga etc, just make sure that you do it safely. As they get older it can be much harder to get them exercising, but perhaps rewarding them somehow might work or talking to them about how it will change how they look – which could work with teenagers especially.
Do not Use Unhealthy Food as a Treat
Many parents will give their children puddings, sweets, chocolate and things like this as a treat. Either if they have been good as a reward or for a special occasion such as a birthday. This sets a pattern of behaviour which means that they associate foods like this with being spoiled and it make them desire them more. Try to make healthy foods as a treat instead – a lovely ripe banana, avocado on wholemeal toast, strawberries with some natural yogurt. It takes time to adjust our mindset and palette but it can happen.
Set a Good Example
It is so important to lead by example You cannot expect your children to be fit and healthy if you are not. This means that the whole family will need to change their lifestyle. It can be tricky, but doing it as a family can actually mean that you will be able to motivate each other. You can perhaps cook and shop together, choose recipes etc and that will help you all. You can also come up with ideas to exercise together and things like that as well.