Promoting healthy eating at a young age can help bring the obesity epidemic under control.
Good nutrition in youth sets the stage for a lifetime of health and helps children avoid the many negative consequences of obesity, which can include depression, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
Put the power of prevention to work against pediatric obesity with these healthful eating tips:
- Clear your kitchen cabinets. Avoid buying high-salt, high-fat snacks. Keep yogurt, cut-up vegetables and fruit, or unbuttered popcorn on hand instead.
- Forget fast food. Enjoy family meals in which lean proteins, such as grilled fish or chicken, take the place of fried foods.
- Just add (to) water. Flavor water with slices of lemon, lime, cucumber, orange or apple to add taste and keep children away from sweet juices, soda and energy drinks.
- Let choosy eaters choose. If your children don’t eat the fruits and vegetables you serve them, allow them to browse the produce section and make their own selections.
- Finally, remember that all eyes are on you.
“You are your children’s role model,” says Denice Taylor, R.D., dietitian at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital. “If they see you eating healthfully, exercising regularly and limiting screen time, they may imitate your behavior. Take your children grocery shopping with you, and teach them cooking skills when they’re young.”
If you’re concerned about your child’s weight, speak with his or her pediatrician about a referral for weight management counseling with a dietitian.