Kids don’t need fad diets, radical weight-loss plans, or extreme workouts. It’s the little things they do every day that make the biggest difference.
With the right habits, you can keep your child at a healthy weight, or help them slim down if they have some extra pounds. The key is to make good choices part of life for the whole family -- parents included.
Healthy Habit 1: Eat dinner as a family.
Families who eat meals together often have a better diet and lower rates of obesity, research shows.
Why? When you cook at home, you control the menu, so it's easier for everyone to eat healthy. Plus, when kids eat on their own -- especially plopped down in front of the TV -- they might not pay attention to what and how much they’re food they're having, which makes it easy to overeat.
Your child may not always like everything you put on her plate, but don’t stop serving the nutritious stuff. The more kids see you and other family members eating a given food, the more likely they are to try it. Keep serving and enjoying that broccoli, and she’ll be on board before long.
Healthy Habit 2: Switch off screens.
When kids spend too much time watching TV, playing video games, or zoning out with a smartphone, odds are they’re doing that instead of something healthier, like being active or getting enough sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 2 hours of screen time a day for kids ages 2 and older, outside of homework. And children younger than 2 shouldn’t get screen time at all.
To help them cut back, don't focus on what your kids can't do but rather on what they can do. For instance, don't even mention after-school TV. Instead, make a list of activities that they can do when they come home -- stuff like dance to some music, play on the backyard playset, ride bikes, or help cook dinner. Then, let them pick something from that list.
The best way to help your child stare at screens less is for you to also limit your time with your phone, computer, or TV. Head outside to play as a family instead.