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Childhood Obesity: Healthy Habits Start Early…Even If Your Child is NOT Overweight

What is your child eating? Is he develloping healthy habits? Does eating healthy come natural? ---Picture source: Flickr, by Emborg

September is Childhood Obesity Awareness month.

I’m not going to talk about the statistics. We all know the facts. And I’m not going to dwell into the reasons and causes of childhood obesity. Health professionals and policy makers are still trying to determine the cause, and no one can point the nail to a single direction.

What I want to highlight in today’s post is habits. Whether your child is overweight or not, eating healthy foods, and teaching your child to make those healthy decisions on his own, should be each family’s goal. Eating healthy should be natural and the norm.

Habits are not easy to change once established. It’s hard to break a 20-year old habit, but it’s much easier to prevent it from developing in the first place. Even if you have teenagers, it’s not over and it’s never too late to start. Remember, a 14-year-old habit is easier to break than your child as an adult in his 50’s trying to change his habits–along with family and work responsibilities–to lower his cholesterol.

What you build today will last them a lifetime. Are you ready for this change?

Healthy habits are not about eating a certain food or eliminating another. It’s really a way of life. A lifestyle.

Look into your family’s lifestyle. What are you promoting? I’m going to throw a bunch of thoughts for you to think about. By no means I’m being judgmental. No family’s eating habits are perfect–not even mine. What you really want is for MOST of your habits to help your child develop a healthy lifestyle, without effort, without struggle.

Consider these habits (you=you and your family):

  • Do you eat breakfast? What’s for breakfast? Eating breakfast is a must, but what you eat makes a huge difference.
  • When you snack, what do you eat? Do you go for a fruit or a candy bar? Do you snack or graze?
  • What drinks are common in your house? Water, milk, and 100% juice? How often do you drink sodas and other sweetened beverages?
  • Do you have an active lifestyle? Do you encourage your kids to run, jump rope, bike, play outside, etc? Or are all family activities sedentary?
  • When you go to the mall, do you always buy your kids a treat? And how often do you go to the mall? (A-ha!)
  • When you eat out, what do you order? Do you always get dessert? And how often do you eat out?
  • Does your family always have dessert after dinner? Do you always buy your kids pastries when you stop for coffee? Do you always give in to their candy and junk food demands when you grocery shop?
  • Have you ever taken your kids to a farmers market? Have you tried growing your own food?
  • Do your kids help prepare dinner? Which brings the next thought…
  • Do you gather around the table as a family for dinner every night (or almost)?

There’s on one food, way, or habit that is right for everyone. We–and our families–are different. But all parents share one thing: they want the best for their children. Start now when they are young. Focus on health, eating right, and being active. Good health helps your kids learn and builds their self-esteem.

What better can we give them?

More reading:

Little Stomaks had a Childhood Obesity Awareness Month Blog Carnival where they list several articles posted by dietitians and health professionals on the topic. I highly encourage you to read them. Very informative and offer a wide selection of opinions and tips.

I also recommend this video by Tom Colicchio, one of Top Chef’s judges.

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