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How to Help Your Children Make Healthy Choices


We all know that healthy eating and physical activity are critical for raising happy and well-adjusted children. However, it can be very difficult to put this knowledge into action, especially in today's fast-paced, busy lifestyle - and it's starting to show. Today, one in three children is considered obese, thanks to a largely sedentary lifestyle that's spent in front of television screens and computer monitors.



Researchers have expounded these alarming findings by determining that overweight toddlers are fare more likely to become overweight middle schoolers, high schoolers, and adults. Therefore, it's apparent that the cycle of obesity can start early and result in both physical and mental harm.



So how can you help your children make healthy choices? Simple: lead by example.



Children aren't likely to change their physical activity and diet on their own; therefore, they need the help of their parents to start making the healthy choices that cut down on the obesity cycle. Parents are critical to arranging a healthy and encouraging environment. For example, parents can make sure that children sit down for healthy dinners, eat full servings of fruit, and spend more time outdoors rather than in front of the television. Positive feedback and encouragement for weight loss is also critical for obese children, as they need the love and support of their parents to accomplish their weight-loss goals.



Parents who follow these healthy habits are much more likely to have children who internalize and adopt these habits for themselves. Researchers have shown that working out as a family can have significant benefits for children; in fact, even when children become adults, the ones who had parents working with them lost considerably more weight than those who attempted to lose weight on their own.



Getting young children to eat healthy can be difficult, especially if they've been engaging in unhealthy behaviors for some time. Don't be too quick to give up if a child rejects an unhealthy food; research shows that children typically have to taste a new food 9 to 15 times in order to like it. Additionally, parents should avoid creating stress and anxiety over trying new foods, as this can cause children to associate unpleasant feelings with eating certain foods.



Small changes in the home environment can have a big impact on your child's health. Therefore, consider limiting TV and computer time, and keep sugary snacks out of the house altogether. This way, you can create an environment where it's easy for your whole family to be happy and healthy.


June 5, 2013
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