You can’t turn on the television without hearing some reference to the childhood obesity problem. Understanding the dangers is a no-brainer: being obese has an impact on physical and mental health and puts your child on a path to a life plagued with health problems and disease. Many parents think that a diet is the way to go, but diets are just as harmful and ineffective for kids as adults, if not more. So how does a parent go about keeping a child’s weight in check without putting them on a diet? The following tips will show you just how to do that:
Make Play Time More Active
You don’t need to get your child a treadmill to make them more active! Choose fun activities for them so that play time involves being active as opposed to watching television or playing video games. Time spent playing in the sandbox, swinging and sliding at the park, or even a walk around the park or a local pond to feed the ducks are fun ways to get your kids moving and having a great time.
Make Sure They Get Enough Sleep
There is a proven link between being sleep deprivation and weight gain that is not only limited to adults but affects children too. Studies have found that children who get a poor night’s sleep tend to feel hungry more often and overeat because of an increase in the hormone grehlin and a decrease in leptin. Nine hours of sleep are recommended for children every night.
Be Responsible About What They Drink
Parent’s often underestimate the role that drinks play in a child’s weight. Drinks containing sugar have been linked to weight gain in children, including drinks that some parents considered to be healthy. Along with cutting back on the amount of pop your child drinks, you should also limit the amount of sports drinks as well as juices that contain high amounts of added sugar. Just a couple of sugary drinks a day could pack on extra pounds.
Talk to Your Child about Their Feelings
We focus on the physical reasons why our children are gaining weight but often forget about the emotional reasons that could be affecting the way they eat. Emotional eating isn’t reserved for adults—many children use food as a way to comfort themselves when they’re feeling overwhelmed, scared, depressed, or anxious. Talk to them about what they’re feeling and encourage them to come to you when they have a problem.
Lead by Example
Children will almost always follow the example that they’re given by their parents. This means if you have poor eating habits then your child will likely have them as well. By being active and having healthy eating habits as well as a healthy attitude about your weight and body image your child will be more likely to follow suit, which will help keep them healthy and their self-esteem intact.