As a father of two and someone who’s struggled with being overweight my entire life, being a role model and setting healthy examples for my children is a huge priority in my life. Since September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month in the U.S, I thought it’d be fitting to start this month helping to raise awareness and leading the way with good ideas on what you can do to help.
Growing up as a child my house never had a shortage of soda and sweets. I think part of it was because I grew up during a time where easier, faster, and packaged hit a stride. I remember a time when I was really young where it seemed like everything was home made and whole but then the late 80’s hit and everything became microwavable, bottled, or boxed.
Now add to the packaged foods revolution an explosion of both parents working because of divorce or money and it’s no wonder the kids got left behind. We lost our role models to corporate america and we lost our fruits and veggies to cardboard and nutrition labels.
So what’s a parent to do when we’ve been spiraling as a country for so long and we ourselves are still learning? Do we give in and continue the spiral or do we take a stand?
If you’ve read this far then I’m certain you’re someone who loves children deeply and wants to take a stand but maybe you’re wondering how can you make a difference?
- Exercise with your kids. Just the other day my wife walked up to pick me up at the train with our kids. I promptly changed clothes and we went on a nice run before dinner. The kids were along for the ride in a running stroller (they’re only 3 & 1) cheering us the whole way. Since it was interval day they screamed faster daddy faster the whole way. I couldn’t pay a trainer for that kind of motivation!
Get out there and include your kids in your workouts. Whether it’s a bike ride, a run, or a trip to the gym including them can be fun and educational. Even if they’re too young to participate they’re still seeing their parents and role models working hard to be fit. They will either repeat your mistakes or your successes, it’s your choice.
- Remove the TV’s from bedrooms and shut them off more. I’ve always been a proponent of not parenting by TV. Yea, I love chilling and watching TV as much as the next person but they aren’t in our bedrooms and they certainly aren’t always on. We love playing games (candy land is the current favorite), legos, dolls (yes even boys do that), drawing, painting, etc.
There are so many creative & fun things you can do with your kids that don’t require a remote control and zombie eyes. Don’t be afraid to shut it off but also don’t think they’re just going to instantly entertain themselves if they’ve never had to before. Get in there and get those hands dirty and covered in finger paint, trains, or maybe a few dolls.
- Shop, cook, and eat healthy foods with your kids. If you’ve read my blog you know we’ve had our ups and downs with food and our kids. Getting them to eat healthy (or at all) can sometimes be a battle. What I do know is that the more we shop for food with them and explain what’s good, bad, and why … the more they want that healthy food. The more we cook with our daughter the more excited she is to try it. The more we ourselves eat healthy foods the more they see what they should be doing.
After that recent trouble we had with my daughter and getting her regular again she has completely changed her reaction to certain foods and it’s been amazing to witness. We can be walking through a grocery store or she could see someone eating goldfish or fruit snacks and she’ll say, those aren’t healthy, they’re not good for me. Sure she occasionally asks for them but when we say no she herself replies with why, we don’t have to.
- Be more active with your kids. Go on family bike rides, walks, or maybe institute a family dance time. I love the times with my little ones where we just break out in dance for no reason at all. It can go on for half an hour and we’re just shaking it and running around the house having a blast. Nothing drives it home more and shows them that staying fit and active can be fun then their own parents leading by example. I can’t tell you the number of laps I’ve done around our kitchen island chasing my 1 & 3 year old.
Those are a few of my suggestions, I’d love to read some of your ideas on how to really engage and educate our kids to live a healthier lifestyle. Do you have some fun or helpful things you’ve done with your kids to teach them about health & fitness?
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