Last summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the state of Michigan (my home state) has the fifth-highest obesity rate at 31.3%. The CDC also projected that 42% of adults nationally will be obese by 2030. What’s most alarming about that statistic? Our children will be adults in 2030 and will be part of that grim statistic! The good news is that the CDC’s projection could be wrong if we take action now to turn the tide.
What does that action look like? Well quite simply, action is work and it takes work to teach our children how to live a healthy lifestyle! It won’t just happen on its own and kids won’t learn unless you teach them.
We, as parents, must be intentional, strategic, and proactive to create healthy lifestyles for our children. One of the best ways we can teach our children is by our example. If we take action with our own health, our children will learn from us.
Be a role model for your child. Kids want to do what their parents are doing! So, what are you doing? If you don’t enjoy an active and healthy lifestyle it will be very difficult to promote one for your child, so start with yourself first. Find your own joy in moving and eating right and your kids will want to join you.
Where do we start? We already know that the two basic ingredients for health and ideal weight are diet and exercise. So…let’s look at some tips for you and your family to get started :
Health Tips To Prevent Family Obesity
The easiest way to eat healthy is to eat “clean”.
By that, I mean eat whole foods in their natural state. Lean meats, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and beans are the best foods to build health. And, these are generally not foods in which we overindulge.
Avoid processed foods.
Processed food is any food that is changed from its natural state by someone other than you (usually a company). Processed foods are generally high in sugar, sodium, dangerous fats and toxic chemicals.
If all Americans followed # 1 and 2, we probably would not have an obesity problem. Processed foods provide empty calories that leave you wanting more because the nutritional needs of your body are not met.
Drinks LOTS of pure, filtered water (install a reverse osmosis water system at home).
Fill a (steel or glass) water bottle to take with you whenever you leave home. Sometimes we eat when we are thirsty! Water helps every system of your body operate optimally…giving you the energy you need to be active.
Keep a few whole snack foods in your purse or car for when you don’t have time for a meal.
Whole fruit and nuts are easy to pack and are ideal snacks that provide protein, vitamins and minerals to fuel your body and provide energy.
A walk not only gets everyone active, but also creates time to talk, problem solve, share memories and joke as a family. Walking or playing together makes family memories and bonds you in a way that technology never can.
Invest in experiences, not stuff.
Instead of buying more toys and technology, use discretionary spending to create a healthy lifestyle. Learn to ski, skate, sled, swim, bat, throw, kick, bike, scoot, etc. Invest in sport equipment and use it. Weekends are a great time for family activities and a time that kids will look forward to! Choose active vacations – hiking, biking, rafting, swimming, playing!
Promote outdoor play.
Do you know that outdoor play for children has decreased 40% since 1970? Outdoor play not only increases physical activity, but creates opportunities for social interaction, creativity, problem solving, exploration, discovery, education – all of the things that create smart, interesting kids who are confident, independent, and self-sufficient. Reducing family screen-time and getting outside will work wonders on every member of the family!
Be sure that your child learns all of the skills to move well throughout life (Physical Literacy).
Skills like throwing, catching, batting, racquet skills, kicking, punting, rolling, cartwheeling, swimming, biking, skipping, shooting hoops, etc. A child who moves well is confident and will enjoy physical activity because he’s good at it. Physical Literacy doesn’t happen by accident and should be part of every child’s education.
So there’s some great tips for you to consider and take action on. I must stress that it’s not important (or even advisable) to change everything at once. Start small and incorporate one positive change for this month. When you’ve made that one a good habit, try making another lifestyle change and keep it for a month.
If you do this every month for a year you will have 12 new healthy habits. 12 new habits will change your life in ways you can’t imagine! So, get started today with just one step on your way to a healthy New Year!
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SAFbaby’s Health Expert Adviser Doreen Bolhuis
Doreen Bolhuis is the President/CEO of Gymco Inc., a multi-sport facility for children in its 31st year of operation in Grand Rapids, MI. Doreen is the creator of Gymtrix, an innovative DVD series to teach physical literacy for babies – 10 yrs. She is a co-founder and partner of Motion Evolution, a licensed national fitness and physical literacy program for children. Doreen’s passion is advocating healthy lifestyles and fighting obesity by empowering parents to create active kids from infancy.
Doreen holds a B.S. degree in Physical Education, Health and Recreation. She has over 35 years experience teaching locally, nationally and internationally and is currently an adjunct professor for Aquinas College in the department of Health and Physical Education. Doreen has appeared in local, national and international media (CNN, The Today Show, Good Morning America, The N.Y. Times) as a guest expert in Physical Literacy. Doreen is a former elite level gymnastics coach and member of the Junior Olympic Committee for USA Gymnastics.