Potty training. Tantrums. Parenting is hard enough without dietary problems. But child obesity is a fact. It’s been spreading and spreading throughout the world like a butter on a piece of white bread.
We can all see that with our own eyes, just by taking a walk in the park, but solving this big problem is not… a walk in the park. The World Health Organization gives terrible news: there are more than 41 million obese children aged between 0 and 5 years old. If your little one is one of them, you might consider specialized help, because obesity at an early age means a more increased chance of serious health problems as a grown-up. These include: cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance (often an early sign of impending diabetes), musculoskeletal disorders (especially osteoarthritis – a highly disabling degenerative disease of the joints), some cancers (endometrial, breast and colon), disability. (Source: http://www.who.int/end-childhood-obesity/facts/en/ ).
Here are a few tips to help you change your child’s diet. Every little step towards a healthier lifestyle could mean a longer and better life for him or her!
Be a role-model. You kid doesn’t just learn swear words from you! God da.. it. The little ones imitate your lifestyle from their first day in this world. All your routines, like wake up time, workout or lack of, meals, snacks or bedtime rituals, your relationships with people around you, the way you express yourself: they all teach your children a way of living and those lessons influence their lives forever. Your best chance of making your child live a healthy life is living one yourself. Be a better person! Nutritionwise, try to avoid sweets and sugar drinks. Cook your own meals and don’t indulge in fast-food and fatty foods. If you talk the talk but don’t walk the walk, you won’t get anywhere. Open your fridge today and throw away anything you wouldn’t want your child to eat. That might save his or her life!
Be creative in the kitchen. Who would choose carrots over a cheeseburger? Well, most people wouldn’t. Unless… those carrots are cut into sticks and served with 3 different healthy delicious dips like mango guacamole, yogurt with parmesan, salsa mixed with cream cheese. Bake vegetable yourself and mix yogurt with out of ripe fruit instead of buying products with tones of sugar, salt or preservatives. There are many ways of introducing fruits and vegetables into your child’s diet. Reasoning with them is almost impossible, but charming them with colorful plates and imaginative meals might work! Food and parenting blogs are great sources of inspiration.
Try interesting educational activities. Visit a farm, go to cooking classes for kids (where they don’t fry chicken of course!), theater plays about happy vegetables and themed camps can show your child a cool version of a healthy lifestyle and diet. Do some research, talk to other parents from your neighborhood or ask for information from your pre-school. You might be surprised on the options you find!
Spend time outdoors. If you are a stay-at-home parent, this can be easy, but even if you can only spend the day with your kid in the weekend, it’s still very important. The fridge is out of reach and you can distract the little one from the constant nibbling. Also, you can exercise, stretch and burn calories in a fun way, like walking, hiking, swimming or climbing, depending on the amenities you have around your home.
Last but not least, talk to your kid. Tell stories, ask questions, find out what makes them laugh or cry, who their friends are and if they stress about anything. Many times, dietary problems have psychological causes. You might find that a happy kid means one that feels loved, accepted and appreciated. They won’t need an ice cream to smile if they have you by their side.