Obesity amongst children is on the increase in many Western countries, particularly the USA. There, it’s estimated that as many as a third of kids can be classed as overweight. The reasons for this are complex but could be in part due to our more sedentary lifestyles in the West as well as the wide availability of foods high in saturated fats and sugars.
According to Feeding My Kid, our children are now eating on average 160 more calories in junk food like crisps and sweets than they did just three decades ago. While we are more aware than ever of the health benefits of eating freshly prepared meals and making better food choices, we still seem to have a problem with salty, sweet or fatty snacks that don’t do us much good at all.
Overeating can become an addiction if it is allowed to get out of hand. Children can get into a cycle of eating all the wrong things, especially if they are dealing with emotional and stress issues as they grow up. While prevention is the best policy, dealing with these issues when they occur can involve a lot of work and may require outside professional help if an addiction is suspected. This is different from general overeating as it involves a complex interaction of biological and psychological influences.
Developing Good Eating Habits
Making sure that your children develop the right eating habits from a very young age is vital. Yes, there is a problem with many kids refusing to eat certain kinds of food and it’s been a perennial problem for all parents around the world since time began.
With ever busier lifestyles too, it’s easier to give in and let your child eat the chips and burgers they have taken a liking to rather than creating a fresh meal with a bunch of valuable nutrients. It’s easier also to keep your kid quiet with a bag of crisps or a chocolate bar when you’re trying to get something done.
Developing healthy eating habits with your children is hard work but needs to be done and it needs to be done persistently. That means talking to your kids about healthy food choices as they grow up as well as restricting their access to sugary sodas and other unhealthy treats.
Cooking from Fresh
There’s no substitute for fresh cooked food. It’s healthier and better for you and the kids. Store bought, premade meals of all types contain high levels of salt, sugar and saturated fat. If you are pushed for time, there is no harm in filling up the freezer with your own prepared meals that are far healthier that the ones from the shop. Having clear eating zones is also important. Don’t sit around the TV when you have the evening meal, sit at the dinner table so that kids get used to the idea of where they should be eating.
Keeping Down the Treats and Fast Food
Almost 70% of the advertising that is aimed at children is food orientated, either for sweets, fast food restaurants or other unhealthy treats. No wonder kids are so motivated to eat them. Trips to the local fast food chain should be kept to a minimum if not eradicated all together. If you are going out to eat, then choose a restaurant that has healthy choices and cooks its food from fresh. An average can of soda contains around 8-12 spoonsful of sugar, far more than the recommended daily allowance. There are plenty of temptations out there and you’ll have to contend with most of them.
Exercise is Good for Kids
Another issue for kids, is that they are far more sedentary than they used to be. This isn’t just because of the rise of computer games and TV, it’s down to busy parents too. Getting your kids out and about and running around is the perfect way to keep their weight regulated. It’s also good for their general mental health.