Keep tabs on your child’s weight

As parents, we can model healthy choices for our children.

Children need their guardians to learn healthy lifelong habits. It is so easy to get into a rut and prepare convenience foods or order takeout. Unfortunately, most of these foods are high in sodium, fat and carbohydrates. We want our children to enjoy food and look forward to their meals, but we also want them to learn to make healthy choices.

As parents, we can model healthy choices for our children. Read the labels on foods we purchase. Insists on a healthy breakfast for your child. It is a jumpstart to a good day! Try cooking together; this will instill the enjoyment of preparing quality meals that all family members will enjoy.

Healthy eating and regular exercise do pay off. Not only do our children become stronger and healthier, but they may lose weight over time (if they need to) and then maintain a healthy weight once they stop growing. Don’t focus on different body shapes, for many times this sends a negative message to children. Focus on looking and feeling healthy.

As in any diet, moderation is the key. Don’t force your child to give up fats (Actually, we all need some fat in our system for physical and mental wellbeing). Figure out your child’s calorie needs. If a child is more active they will burn more calories. If they are sedentary, they will burn less. Visit the Choose My Plate for resources and trusted information.

Build exercise into family life. Plan exercise time instead of TV or other “screen time”. Limit TV to 1-2 hours per day. Make your exercise fun. Let your children pick activates the entire family can participate in. Always talk to your health care provider, but in general children under six should be active with age appropriate exercise and children over six should work up to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. This should include aerobic activity, muscle strength activity and bone strength activity. The Michigan State University Extension website has lots of fun and healthy ideas.

Stay positive! Praise your child for healthy choices. Reward your child; but not with food. Consider a fun hike, or any activity that would be enjoyable and affordable for your family.

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