“The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake,” was the statement First Lady Michelle Obama made when she launched the Let’s Move! Campaign in February of 2010. This initiative is dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity and putting children on the path to
a healthy future by giving parents helpful information and fostering environments that support healthy choices.
Why is this happening, you ask? Well today, children experience a very different lifestyle than their parents did. They spend an average of 7.5 hours a day using entertainment media such as computers, cell phones, video games, TV, and movies as opposed to their parents’ childhood that involved more physical activities during their leisure time. And thirty years ago, kids also ate much differently than kids eat today. Where one snack a day used to be the norm, now kids are trending toward three snacks on average, resulting in an additional 200 calories or more a day. What’s more, one out of five kids has up to six snacks a day!
Portion sizes have grown two to five times bigger than they were in years past, and cumulatively we are now eating 31 percent more calories than we were forty years ago. Today kids consume 56 percent more fats and oils and 14 percent more sugars and sweeteners in their daily diet.
Did you know that if your child has one can of soda a day he has already well exceeded his daily allowance of sugar for that day? What if your child has two or three a day? Now add in a cookie or a treat. Not only is this an unhealthy intake of calories, but also those extra calories add up to create a ‘caloric imbalance’ for most kids these days. Meaning if their
activity level doesn’t equal a level to burn off those extra calories, they begin to retain those calories as fat.
According to Heather Hackett, youth fitness trainer and founder of I Train Your Kids, the first step in getting your kids healthy is to approach healthiness as a family. Everyone in the family, no matter what their size, age, or weight, should be part of the solution. It’s important to eat right not only to keep a healthy weight but also to have a healthy life. Thus all members of the family should be on board.
Tips to Help Your Family Eat Right
- Eat Breakfast. Include a protein, fruit, and a whole grain (waffle, cereal, or
- Choose whole-grain foods. Oatmeal, brown rice, & whole wheat.
- Vary your veggies. Go dark green and orange.
Eat spinach, broccoli, green beans, carrots and sweet potatoes.
- Focus on fruits. Eat them at meals and snacks.
- Get your calcium-rich foods. Build strong bones by serving low-fat and
fat-free milk, yogurt and milk products several times a day.
- Go lean with protein. Eat lean or low-fat meat, chicken, turkey and fish.
Also add dry beans and peas when possible.
- Veggies first. If second helpings are requested, have a veggies first rule.
- Choose healthy oils. Get your oil from fish, nuts, and liquids such as flax and olive oil.
- Check the Labels. Choose foods and beverages that do not have sugar and caloric sweeteners as one of the first ingredients.
- Drink water. Fluids keep your body clean and healthy.
- Try to eat healthy snacks through the day. Fruit, granola bars, nuts or veggies keep your metabolism moving and increase your energy.
- Avoid Fast Food. Fast food is loaded with calories, fats and refined sugars and
is deficient in fiber, vitamins and minerals.