Raising Healthy Children

The number of overweight children has been on the rise in recent years, and with higher weight comes an increased risk for a long list of health conditions.  Parents want to help their children remain healthy but are faced with the challenges of today's society, which places a high value on convenience.  Unfortunately, the longer you wait to encourage a healthy lifestyle for your child, the more dangerous the situation could become.

Children generally follow the examples set by their parents, so you should commit to eating healthier foods together as a family.  Limit the amount of high-fat and high-sugar foods available in the household, like potato chips, cookies and sodas.  Keep plenty of healthy snack options stocked in your cabinets and refrigerator so that your child can make good decisions when searching for a quick snack.  Make smart choices away from home as well -- avoid greasy fast food as a rule.

Educate your children on which foods are healthy and can be eaten with frequency, and which foods are "special treats" that can only be eaten in moderation.  If you bring your children to the grocery store with you, allow them to pick their favorite healthy foods and plan out meals with you.  Then allow one special treat every now and then (perhaps once per week) that your child gets to choose.  As for meals, be sure to serve your child breakfast in the morning to help them get started off to a good day.

Also, set an example for your children and be active together.  Engaging in physical activity as a family is a great way to keep everybody fit.  Kids should be getting exercise every single day.  Place a limit on the amount of time your children spend playing video games, using the computer and watching television, and suggest active alternatives during the times that they are not supposed to be glued to the screen.  Join your child on unstructured outings to the park or playground, and encourage your child to play an organized sport through school or a local league.

You could also have your child help with chores around the house, such as raking leaves or vacuuming, which will keep them moving.  For children who need additional motivation, you can offer rewards for their help keeping the house and yard clean.

Be involved in your child's life and be supportive of good behaviors rather than accusatory of bad ones.  Don't tell the child he is overweight and needs to lose weight, rather work on incorporating healthier foods and activities into his life.  When food becomes a sinful or guilty indulgence, the child could act out by turning to eating in secret, or worse, an eating disorder.

Now is a great time to turn your family's health around.  Start out slowly if you are making drastic changes to your family's lifestyle.  Your children are bound to be a little unhappy at first, but will be much better off for the changes that you make.  They will be healthier, more energetic, and hopefully, much happier.

Information is for educational and informational purposes only and is not be interpreted as financial or legal advice. This does not represent a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold any security. Please consult your financial advisor.