I truly believe that what we eat and drink plays a significant role, not only in our health, but also in the ability to feel good about ourselves and accomplish meaningful goals. I think a lot of adults try to prioritize this, yet it’s still very distressing to know that many people don’t monitor the quality and quantity of what they eat—nor what their kids are eating.
The alarming statistics speak for themselves. More than 70% of adults in the U.S. are overweight (42% are obese) and more than 19% of children and teens are overweight or obese—that equates to almost 14.5 million kids!
The Painful Consequences of Childhood Obesity
Being seriously overweight during their important developmental years leaves kids vulnerable to a host of medical and psychological consequences, including a greater risk for:
- Being bullied and teased ☹
- Having depression, anxiety, and lower self-esteem
- Feeling more isolated and stressed
- Developing high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, respiratory problems, and other medical challenges
What’s more is that many of these problems will follow them into adulthood, elevating their chances of stroke, heart or liver disease, certain types of cancer, and dementia.
As hard as this may be to read, it’s important to understand the seriousness of this problem. But it’s equally important to realize there is hope to turn things around if any of your children— and perhaps you too—are struggling with concerning weight problems.
7 Ways to Diminish the Risk of Obesity for Your Family
I fully believe all of us can retrain ourselves to adopt better habits that lead to a healthier body and brain. And this doesn’t mean you have to suffer in the process. Yes, your kids may push back at first, but eventually they’ll adjust, plus they’ll start feeling better about themselves too.
Here are 7 simple things you can start doing to help get your whole family to a healthier weight:
- Talk to your children and educate them about why it’s important to make these changes. Let them know how much you love them and want them to be happier and healthier.
- Be a positive role model. You have to walk the walk since children will take cues from your behavior. Invite them to help you prepare healthy meals in the kitchen.
- Start adding more fresh fruits and veggies, and limit processed and sugary foods since they tend to be less nutritious and have more calories and unhealthy ingredients. Also, please stop letting your kids drink soda—it’s one of the biggest culprits of the obesity epidemic. Let them have seltzer with slices of fruit or flavored stevia, which makes it taste more like soda. They’ll get used to it and learn to like it—I promise!
- Have healthy snacks available. Prepare them in advance so your family can easily grab them when they’re hungry. Here are a couple of recipes from my website that kids really love: Chunky Monkey Frozen Bananas and Stay Sharp Pizza Snacks.
- Healthier foods diminish cravings, so as you transition to better eating habits, donate any unhealthy packaged and canned foods in your cupboards to your local food pantry.
- Eat at least one meal together as a family each day, without cell phones (some kids might grumble about this at first). Use this time to let everybody talk about their day. Not only is feeling “heard” important, especially to children, but it also increases a sense of connection and trust that is necessary for their development.
- Limit screen and TV time and increase physical activity. Being sedentary contributes significantly to weight problems. Being more active as a family is a great way to get them moving. Here are a few ideas for you:
- Go for a walk together before or after dinner (depending on the daylight).
- Put on some music they like (even if you don’t) and have a dance party in the living room.
- Consider getting a family membership to your local recreation center and sign everyone up for some fun activities that also increase their physical fitness.
By taking the step to make positive changes for yourself and your family, you empower everyone to take personal responsibility for their health. Not only does this help your children become more confident, but it also sets the stage for them to live healthier and more productive lives without the burden of long-term mental and physical health problems.
If you’re struggling and need professional help, Amen Clinics is here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.