Take a stand: Tackling childhood obesity in your home
Tips for changing your family’s diet and lifestyle in the new year
CALGARY, AB – January, 2012 – Most adults make a resolution to get in shape every year, but with rising childhood obesity rates the resolution we should be making is to get our children in shape.
Edleun, a provider of early learning child care, sees the obesity trends first hand. Recognizing the need to incorporate healthy lifestyle lessons into their learning experience, Edleun worked with Registered Dietitian Andrea Holwegner to create healthy menus geared towards young children. As Andrea explains, “We see the impact an unhealthy lifestyle has on children – the emotional and the physical implications are devastating. There is a real need to do something.”
In fact, in Canada, childhood obesity hovers at 26 per cent and adult obesity at 59 per cent. With the Childhood Obesity Foundation estimating that with these trends continuing childhood obesity will lead to a national adult obesity rate of 70 percent within 20 years. (http://www.childhoodobesityfoundation.ca/statistics)
There is no simple solution, but there are healthy steps every family can take. “Parents and caregivers can start by role modelling healthy habits at home and school. Ask questions about the foods provided at your childcare facility. And above all, ensure your entire family stays active.” Andrea adds.
Here are some basic tips that every family can learn from and that we parents can replicate at home.
1. Take it slow
Don’t make radical changes to your family’s eating habits over night. Slowly and steadily add in more vegetables and whole grains, reduce portion sizes of sweets, sugary beverages and processed foods. Putting a plate of broccoli in front of most children when they’re used to potato chips won’t work. Try veggies and dip, whole grain crackers and cheese or fruit and yogurt smoothies as snacks. Remember it can take dozens of tries before a new food will gain acceptance.
2. Keep it whole
One of the simplest and easiest ways to eat better is to shop on the peripheral of the grocery store foods for less processed foods. Make healthier homemade versions of family favorites such as whole wheat macaroni and cheese, taco salad or whole wheat pizza with veggies, ham/chicken and cheese.
3. Hide the good stuff
Children aren’t always the most adventurous eaters. Try hiding the healthy stuff in their favourite dishes. Sneak vegetables into the pasta. Add mashed cauliflower to mashed potatoes. Use whole wheat bread in grilled cheese.
4. Stay active
Diet isn’t enough. Kids, like adults, need to be active. Kids naturally have an abundance of energy and wonder, they just need a chance to use it. Set your kids loose outside, take them to the park, sign them up for sports and recreational activities. While this can be challenging in winter don’t give up. Utilize your community’s resources; almost all communities have winter recreational activities or indoor facilities open for community use.
5. Lead by example
Children mimic adult behaviour. Set better example by staying active and eating right. Just as we instil our moral values on our children, instil healthy lifestyles on them.