Parenting Matters: Teaching about food

  • Wednesday, September 18, 2019 1:30am
  • Life

The importance of teaching your child how to eat properly often hits the newspapers. The number of young children who are overweight has more than doubled in recent years. Children who are inactive and who do not eat properly are likely to become overweight.

It is clear that it is time to talk about healthy eating and healthy living habits.

Like many other areas of raising children, parents need to help. Give healthy food like fruits and vegetables to your child. Limit the amount of sugar your little one eats even if she loves it. Watch what she orders when you go out. Avoid just meat and potatoes and make sure it includes some greens. Do not try to put her on a big diet; they are difficult to make work.

You can help her and the whole family by just changing a few ways she eats.

• Don’t single her out for a new diet. Involve everyone in the family in eating a more healthy way.

• Make small changes in her diet that can last forever. Big changes are more likely to fail.

• Cut back on processed and fast foods. You need to do this because they are higher in calories and fat.

• Change your cooking to make it healthier for the whole family. Learn about the good ways you can improve what you serve each meal.

• Be sure to avoid sugary drinks. Instead of soda and juice substitute water and skim or low fat milk.

• Have more salads with small amounts of dressing.

• Take time to expect significant weight loss.

• Avoid having candy and other desserts around in order to help her make healthier eating choices.

It may be worthwhile to consult her pediatrician especially if you are having difficulty succeeding with what you are doing. Certainly, this is a better way than to try to put her on a very strict new diet.

The number of children with weight issues has increased significantly in recent years. The percentage of 6- to 11-year-olds who are overweight has doubled in the last 25 years. The result is major medical issues these children will face. Overweight children are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, and may even face kidney failure and amputations by age 30.

We go to great lengths to keep our children healthy. We get them vaccinated for numbers of diseases. We take them to the doctor when we see a problem developing. We read the newspaper or watch stories on our computer to help us learn more ways to help children be healthy. Now it is time to look at the huge impact that being overweight has on our children and even on us.

Parents can make a difference. Actually, families can make a difference.

Your help is critical in order for her to succeed in becoming a healthy eater. She will be pleased when she sees the improvement as time goes by. You will not succeed overnight. Help her to be patient. Help her see that progress is worth waiting for. Let her see you are patient for any change you hope to see as your family changes what it eats.

You do many things to help your children. When you help an overweight child learn to eat in a healthy manner you are making a major difference in her life and in her health. You are doing her a favor for life. This is what parents do.

Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. To reach First Teacher Executive Director Patty Waite, email patty@firstteacher.org or call 360-681-2250.

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