What to Say
Registered dietitian Sarah Krieger, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, offers guidelines for how to strike up a conversation about healthy lifestyle choices in everyday situations.
When: Grocery shopping
Talk about: Why you pick one food over another
For example: "This will make you stronger."
When: Making dinner
Talk about: Why foods are good for you
For example: "Carrots help our eyes."
When: Being active as a family
Talk about: How exercise helps your body and how it makes you feel
For example: "Being outside makes me happy, and biking is great for our legs and hearts."
Making Healthy Habits
At this age, your child depends exclusively on you for food and activity. So you can have a huge positive impact on his health. It's up to you to make the changes that will help him get the healthiest foods and enough activity.
"As parents, we're responsible for bringing good food to the table and for making activity fun," says pediatrician Walsh. It's a parent's job to decide what food comes into the house. If healthy food is in the house, that's what your child will eat. You also can enroll your child in sports or active classes that she likes. "If play is fun, they'll continue to love to move and be active their whole lives," she says.
It's important to make sure the whole family's on board. Mom can't sit and eat ice cream in front of the TV while expecting an overweight child to play and move. Come up with activities -- hiking, basketball, dancing -- that everyone will enjoy. Then moving becomes a fun family habit.
The same goes for mealtime. Don't serve a separate meal for the child who's not at a healthy weight while the rest of the family gets fried chicken and butter-soaked biscuits. Everyone at the table should eat a meal that is half made up of veggies. The other half should be made up of a side of lean meat and a side of whole grains.
That way eating well and regular activity become habits for everyone, and you're setting the groundwork for a lifetime of healthiness.
That doesn't mean foods become "good" and "bad" with the bad ones being totally off-limits, says registered dietitian Krieger.
"We want kids to enjoy their foods and not feel bad about eating anything," she says. Don't keep candy and sodas in your house. But if your kids are at a party, for example, let them eat the cake and ice cream.