Helping Your Kids Watch What They Eat

One of the best places for dealing with this problem is at home. By having the whole family make healthy choices, you can help your kids meet healthy weight goals.

In the past 30 years, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in teens, leaving many at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and cancer.

Watch what you buy
Easy steps, such as making fruits and veggies part of each meal or shopping together, can make a difference in children’s lives and help build healthy habits for life. Another way you can combat obesity is by arming your kids with knowledge to make better decisions.

To help stop obesity, it’s important that parents and caregivers create a healthy environment at home. A recent study shows that what kids eat at home affects what foods they choose to eat at school, as well as their overall attitude towards food. Eating a lot of processed foods and drinking sugary drinks in the home can lead to unhealthy habits.

One important thing to learn is what to look for on a nutrition label in order to choose healthier snacks. Here are just a few things for them to scout on food labels:

  • Serving size: One package can have more than one serving
  • Calories: 400 calories or more per serving is high and 100 is moderate
  • Nutrients: Pick foods that are lower in fats, cholesterol and sodium. Get foods that have more potassium, fiber, vitamins and calcium

You‘ll also want to steer your kids away from foods that contain trans fats. These foods increase the production of “bad” cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires food manufacturers to show how much trans fats are in prepared foods. Look for this on the label and limit buying these products.

What else should you look for on the label? Look at the percent of daily values for saturated fat and dietary cholesterol and add the numbers together. Values of 5% and less are low, while values of 20% and more are high.

Here are some ideas for the whole family:

Get active with your kids
To fight obesity, set easy fitness goals to get you and your family moving. Take a 30-minute walk each day, play tag, dance in your living room or go to the park.

Plan your menus for the week

  • Planning meals can help the health of your family, while saving you time and money at the grocery store.
  • Get children involved in planning and cooking. Don’t forget, you’re their healthy role model
  • Cut how much sugar your family is getting— it’s as easy as choosing different drinks.
  • When you sit down and eat together, your children are more likely to eat more fruits and veggies and less junk foods.

Add color to the table

  • When you keep fruits and veggies on the table, you and your children are more likely to make healthy choices. We all eat more of the foods that are easy to reach.
  • Store cookies on a high shelf. 
  • Move the healthy food to the front of the shelf at eye level.

How much to eat?

  • The hand is the ideal measuring tool for children, teens and adults.
    • A child-size portion of meat should fit in in his or her palm.
    • Whole-grain carbs, fruit, veggies and yogurt, should be about the size of the child’s fist
    • A serving of cheese is about thumb-size
    • For occasional munching on snack foods, think a handful.
  • For drinks, use measuring cups to take the guess work out of serving sizes
  • Use smaller plates, bowls and cups to limit the portions.

 Be wary of those trans fats

  • When you eat out, ask what fats are used for cooking and in sauces and dressings. Many restaurants now offer trans-fat-free foods.
  • Trade in pastries, muffins, doughnuts, fried and processed foods for whole-grain cereals and breads, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Replace margarine, butter and lard, and hydrogenated oils with canola and olive oil. 
  • Try baking, steaming, grilling or broiling instead of frying.

How do you help your kids eat better at home? Does it help? 


Sources: American Heart AssociationLet’s MoveCDCAmerican Academy of PediatricsScience Daily
Resources www.chopchopmag.org

Most Recent Update: 9/6/2017

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