The new year is sneaking up on us again, and I am sure many of us are wondering what we should put on those resolution lists. How about getting the whole family healthy in 2023? Most of us agree that proper nutrition and regular exercise are key components of a healthy lifestyle. But when it comes to our children, implementing these practices can be challenging.
Childhood obesity is a complex medical condition with serious physical and psychological repercussions, yet too many kids struggle with extra weight due to inactivity, unhealthy eating habits, and other factors. As parents or guardians, we must take the lead in helping children combat the obesity epidemic – starting with simple steps like ensuring access to fresh produce and daily outdoor activity.
Establish a Routine of Healthy Eating and Exercise
Establishing a healthy eating and exercise routine is very important in promoting the well-being of kids. Exercising should involve cardiovascular activities and strength training, at least 30 minutes per day for five to six days a week for older children and teens. Exercises such as running, cycling, swimming, and playing sports should be encouraged.
Regarding nutrition, it is important to ensure that your child has access to plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins at meals and throughout the day. With this routine, adults can help ensure good health for their kids into adulthood.
Set Reasonable Limits on Screen Time
Setting reasonable limits on screen time is crucial to children's and adolescents' physical and mental development. Introducing a set of rules into the household that determines when and where screens can be used will help to teach young people how to self-regulate and take responsibility for their own health and well-being.
It’s important to communicate with children as they grow, explaining why certain limits are in place, so they can better understand how their behavior affects them. Creating an environment in which screen usage is balanced with physical activities, chores, educational pursuits, free play, family time, and socializing will ensure that children use technology responsibly. Limits on screen time may be challenging to implement but are worth it for your child’s long-term well-being and social development.
Make Sure Your Kids are Getting Enough Sleep
Kids need quality sleep, an adequate amount of it, to ensure they grow into happy and healthy adults. Kids aged 3-5 should get 10-13 hours of sleep a night; kids aged 6-12 should try to get 9-12 hours; And teens are recommended to get 8-10 hours each night. Establishing a bedtime schedule for your children is the first step in ensuring they get enough sleep.
Kids need a consistent sleeping pattern since insufficient rest can impair their alertness and cause them to become irritable. Kids who don't get enough sleep may also suffer from weight issues due to hormone imbalances associated with growth and hunger. Making sure your kids are getting enough sleep isn't just important now; it's necessary for future development too.
Plan Ahead, Pack Healthy Snacks & Meals for When You're on the Go
Eating healthy snacks and meals on the go can be challenging, especially for kids. Taking the time to plan and pack healthy snacks and meals is vital for ensuring that your nutrition goals are achievable, even when you're away from home.
Kids love snacking, so get them involved in the planning process by having them pick out their favorite healthy snacks they'd like to take with them and then see if they can come up with fun and nutritious recipes or meal ideas that can come along too. Healthy eating habits stay with us throughout our lives, so making sure your kids know how to stay nourished while on the go will be beneficial now as well as later on.
Get Your Kids Involved in Preparing Their Own Food
Kids should be involved in preparing their own food as much as possible. Kids have a great opportunity to learn about nutrition and practice healthy eating habits when involved in the process of meal planning and preparation. Not only does this fun exercise help excite them about cooking and eating, but it also sets a positive example for living a healthier life.
Additionally, getting your kids involved in preparing meals is an excellent way to teach them valuable life skills. As they practice skills such as measuring ingredients, following recipes, chopping vegetables, and experimenting with flavors, your kids will develop the confidence they need to make better food choices – not only today but well into their adult lives.
Model Healthy Behavior Yourself
Parents play a critical role in teaching their children how to live healthy, happy lives. Parents should be their children's first and foremost example by modeling healthy behaviors such as exercising regularly, eating nutritious foods, and purposefully dedicating time to relaxation and self-care strategies.
When parents treat themselves with respect and focus on their own health, there is an increased likelihood that children will follow suit. Parents can also be an asset in encouraging healthy conversations around these topics—"normalizing" them—to ensure kids understand the importance of caring for one’s body, mind, and soul. After all, when it comes down to it, parents are usually their kid’s biggest role models and examples!
When we implement the tips we’ve discussed, you should be well on your way to establishing healthy habits for your whole family. Not only does this promote healthy habits that will benefit the family physically, but it also promotes quality family time that will benefit the family mentally as well.
Obesity is linked to several gastro issues like reflux disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, hepatitis C-related disease, gallstone, cholangiocarcinoma, and pancreatic cancer to name a few. GI Associates & Endoscopy Center’s pediatrics is here to help your child stay healthy and keep their digestive systems functioning normally.