Today, more kids than ever are overweight. They get less exercise and eat more unhealthy food than generations past. Video games have become a substitute for playing outside, and convenience foods are becoming a staple in their diets. These changes have lead to an increased incidence of a variety of disorders.
It is more important now than it has ever been to do our best to keep our kids healthy. Kids have more unhealthy options than they once did, and it is our job to make sure they get the exercise and healthy diet they need. Here are some things we can do to help our kids stay in good health:
* Limit snack choices. Instead of buying lots of chips and sweets, stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables for snacks. Given the opportunity, many kids love to eat apples, bananas, celery, and other natural foods. And if there are no unhealthy options available, they can’t eat them.
* Provide balanced meals at home. A frozen pizza every now and then is not the end of the world, but it shouldn’t be a staple of your child’s diet. And when frozen pizza is on the menu, it can be accompanied by a salad or followed by a dessert of fresh fruit.
* Avoid fast food as much as possible. Fast food is notoriously salty and greasy, and it has little nutritional value. When eating out, choose restaurants that offer healthier fare.
* Put limits on the use of video games, computers, and television. These things take up time that could be spent participating in more active pursuits. Thirty minutes to an hour a day is more than enough time for kids to do these things.
* Provide ample opportunity for physical exercise. Play catch with the kids, go on bike rides with them, and encourage participation in sports. If exercise is fun, kids will be more willing to work up a sweat.
* Give your kids gifts that encourage them to get up and move. Skateboards and sports equipment are a couple of ideas. By giving such things for birthdays and holidays instead of video games and other items that require less active participation, you send the message that physical activity is important.
Keeping our kids healthy is a harder job than it has ever been. But if we take the initiative to provide them with healthier choices, it’s not so hard to get them started eating healthily and exercising. And if we instill these habits into our children early, they will be more likely to continue to follow them as adults. This paves the way for a lifetime of healthy living, improving their quality of life for the long haul.