Childhood obesity is a worldwide epidemic with disastrous implications. Being obese greatly increases your chances of developing heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, joint problems and even some cancers. Most ominous is the fact that obese children have a very high likelihood of growing up to be obese adults.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2007-2008, one quarter of children in Australia are considered to be overweight or obese. That’s an increase of four percentage points since 1995, or 600,000 children between the ages of 5 and 17. What can you do to prevent your children from becoming part of those statistics?
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The two most important factors in raising healthy kids are exercise and nutrition. Children start developing lifelong habits while very young, and you want the ones they develop to be healthy ones. Here are a few tips for feeding your kids the right foods.
See that your children get an adequate supply of protein for growth of their bones and muscles. Good sources of protein are lean meat and poultry, eggs, seafood, beans, peas and nuts. Avoid processed meats, fatty cuts and fast food.
While some people think that you need large amounts of meat to get sufficient protein in your diet, there are alternate sources that offer less fat, hormones and preservatives. Consider having a meat-free meal once a week, using ingredients like legumes and nuts for protein.
Fruits and vegetables
Make sure your kids eat a variety of these every day. Introduce new ones regularly so they develop a taste for more than just a few fruits and veggies. Serve dark green leafy vegetables as often as possible.
Prepare vegetables as simply as possible, without too many additional fats and calories. Use your imagination when looking for new ways to up your kids’ intake of vegies. How about keeping cherry tomatoes and carrot sticks cold in the fridge for healthy, fast snacks?
Pass up the over-processed grain products like white bread or sweetened cereal and instead serve whole-grain choices like oatmeal, brown rice, popcorn and whole grain bread.
Porridge doesn’t have to be boring—add honey or fruit for natural sweetening. Plus, oatmeal cookies are a snack that’s packed with nutrition and fiber!
While dairy products are a good source of important nutrients, they can also be high in fat. Encourage your kids to drink low-fat milk and eat low-fat cheeses in moderation.
Dairy foods high in calories like ice cream and fatty cheeses should be saved for special occasions. As long as they’re eating healthy kids food every day, a treat now and then won’t hurt.
Avoid empty calories
Here are a few foods you should allow only in very limited amounts, because they’re high in fats, salt and sugar: soft drinks, cake, pizza, butter, fried foods, lollies and processed meats. None of these qualify as nutritious kids food.
Soft drinks are considered to be the number-one culprit in the epidemic of childhood obesity, since they’re full of high fructose corn syrup and have little or no nutritional value. Try to keep your kids away from soft drinks as long as you can—you’ll be doing them a favour in the long run.
How do you get your kids to eat healthy? Share your tips below!