Numbers prove that childhood obesity is on the rise. More and more kids today are overweight, obese and developing weight related diseases at younger ages.
So how can parents take an active role in preventing weight issues, or deal with an existing problem?
Catherine Walsh, dietician with I.W.K Children’s Hospital in Halifax, N.S., says that showing your kids how to eat properly is essential.
“It’s important for parents to set an example,” says Walsh. “They should be eating properly and making meal times a priority.”
Providing healthy options at home for their kids and themselves is a start in the right direction. Walsh believes sitting down with your kids for meals and talking about where your food comes from will help develop positive relationships with food. Taking action as a family to throw out junk, and start making healthful foods together will get kids on board with a healthier lifestyle.
“Sit down and talk to your family,” says Walsh. “Go to the grocery store or the farmer’s market and make an adventure out of it.”
Making healthy eating fun for kids is important, says Walsh. She says a few great ways to get them excited about dinnertime are to get them to help you make dinner, try new types of food together, and make fun treats like smoothies.
She also says to keep track of what your family is eating. Check that your family is getting all the food groups each day. Walsh says it can be fun for kids to learn the food groups and get them involved, have them check their own meals to see if there are vegetables, fruit, protein and grains in each meal.
One mistake that can happen, says Walsh, is being critical of what your child is eating.
“Let your kids guide you,” says Walsh. “It’s a sensitive topic for some people, don’t come down too hard on them about food.”
New parents can be especially vulnerable to anxiety regarding what to feed their child. Walsh says it’s important to read up on nutrition for babies and toddlers, making sure they are eating the right foods. She also says you don’t need to buy special food for toddlers; whole foods like apples and bananas are better than processed or boxed food.
“Parent should trust themselves and have a relaxed, positive attitude towards food, and your kids will too,” says Walsh.