One in three American children and teens are considered overweight or obese today. The rise of health problems in our children includes high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and elevated cholesterol levels. Children that are obese or overweight are also prone to experience psychological problems including poor body image, and low self-esteem.
What can we do to help our children improve their self-esteem and feel better about themselves; look better and importantly improve their overall health and well being?
Certainly we realize the importance of exercise and specifically even more so now that we have more and more children sitting in front of computers and TV. So while technology is on the rise, and critical to our future, unfortunately spending too much time online and connected is unhealthy for our physicality and health. Using the TV as a babysitter is not an option. There has to be healthier ways to entertain and keep our youngsters engaged and learning. Many after school programs are a perfect solution to this and offer programs and activities for children and young teens; for example Boys & Girls Club of America, Girls Inc, and Girl Scouts. I am excited to see that the Girl Scouts are introducing a gluten free cookie. Certainly a positive step in the right direction towards improving our children’s health.
So what can we do to improve our children’s overall health and well being?
When it comes to living a healthier lifestyle, as parents, there is much we can do to demonstrate and become positive role models for our children and their friends . Since children tend to do what they see parents do, being involved and encouraging, demonstrating daily exercise is great practice all parents can embrace.
We live in a culture where fast and convenient is helpful , we think. Since our work schedules are full, the demands of life and responsibilities are high, and we feel as though time is never enough. Opting for a quick drive through, convenience foods, and fast foods in general are killing our nation and our children are suffering now and in the long term.
So what can we do?
What active daily practices can we engage in to help our children become healthier and less overweight or obese?
Here Are 5 Practices You Can Do Towards a Healthier Lifestyle:
- Daily activity is great for weight management, it reduces stress and anxiety, and increases self esteem. Starting out with just 15 minutes a day and increasing to 30 minutes a day is a good first step. Choosing activities such as walking, cycling or swimming are all good options. Making it fun is a priority! It could mean waking one hour earlier in the day to work this into your routine, or perhaps building this activity into your evening routine after work.
- Adding more fruits and vegetables to your child’s daily intake and diet and removing unhealthy snacks are a great way to improve your child’s diet. Snacking on carrots, apples, broccoli and such is a much healthier option than those chocolate chip cookies or salty potato chips.
- Sugar – Reducing sugar in your child’s diet is important. Eliminate soft drinks, and check the food labels before you buy so you can make better choices. Less sugar improves attention and focus and helps stabilize energy levels throughout the day. Reducing or removing cakes, cookies and candy and instead replacing those with natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables. Limiting or removing the white flour and processed carbohydrates such as white rice, white bread, and pasta for example since the unused carbohydrate turns into sugar promoting extra unwanted pounds.
- Sleep – Sleep is the wonder drug and the best anti–aging pill we have. Sleep is also important in dropping those unwanted pounds. Often people struggle to loose weight because they are not sleeping enough. Making sure your child is getting enough rest is important. The less sugar they consume, the easier relaxation and sleep will be. Encouraging healthy ways to unwind and relax like listening to relaxing music or reading a book or a warm bath before bed is better than watching TV late at night or sitting at the computer until all hours this is not conducive to winding down or relaxation.
- FUN – Making activity, daily exercise should be fun. Do something that your child likes. Example, horse riding, rollerblading, swimming, gymnastics, walking, ice-skating. When the exercise is fun it is easier to maintain and doesn’t feel like work. Even for those of us who claim our schedules are full, there is time for activity if we make it a priority. We can all can add to our routine and schedules even a 15 minute walk each day.
Janet I Mueller is the CEO of J Mueller Group. She passionately serves and helps her clients and audiences to unlock and achieve their full potential through personal development and leadership growth, helping leaders to become excellent leaders through practice and philosophy of servant leadership. Janet is a mom, educator, executive coach, speaker and published author. Coming soon, her new book “The Blossoming – A Leader’s Guide 10 Keys To Unlocking Your Blooming Potential”. http://janetimueller.com