by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center
As a parent, you can do a lot to help your child reach and maintain a healthy weight. Staying active and consuming healthy foods and beverages are important for your child’s well-being. You can take an active role in helping your child learn habits that may improve their health. Why Should I Be Concerned? You should be concerned if your child has extra weight because weighing too much may increase the chances that your child will develop health problems now or later in life. In the short run, he or she may have breathing problems or joint pain, making it hard to keep up with friends. Some children may develop health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Some children also may experience teasing, bullying, depression, or low self-esteem. Overweight children are at higher risk of entering adulthood with too much weight. The chances of developing health problems such as heart disease and certain types of cancer are higher among adults with too much weight. How Can I Help My Child Develop Healthy Habits? You can play an important role in helping your child build healthy eating, drinking, physical activity, and sleep habits. For instance, teach your child about balancing the amount of food and beverages he or she eats and drinks with his or her amount of daily physical activity. Take your child grocery shopping and let him or her choose healthy foods and drinks, and help plan and prepare healthy meals and snacks.
Here are some other ways to help your child develop healthy habits: • Be a good role model. Consume healthy foods and drinks, and choose active pastimes. Children often copy what they see. • Talk with your child about what it means to be healthy and how to make healthy decisions. • Discuss how physical activities and certain foods and drinks may help their bodies get strong and stay healthy.
• Children should get at least an hour of physical activity daily and should limit their screen time (computers, television, and mobile devices) outside of schoolwork to no more than two hours each day. • Chat about how to make healthy choices about food, drinks, and activities at school, at friends’ houses, and at other places outside your home. • Involve the whole family in building healthy eating, drinking, and physical activity habits. Everyone will benefit. • Make sure your child gets enough sleep. Some studies link excess weight to not enough sleep in children and adults. How much sleep your child needs depends on his or her age. What Can I Do To Improve My Child’s Eating Habits? Besides consuming fewer foods, drinks, and snacks that are high in calories, fat, sugar, and salt, you may get your child to eat healthier by offering these options more often: • Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; • Lean meats, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, and eggs; • Fermented food and dairy products; • Fruit and vegetable smoothies; • Water, kombucha, or carbonated drinks without added sugar.
You also may help your child eat better by trying to: • Avoid serving large portions. Start with smaller amounts of food and let your child ask for more if he or she is still hungry. If your child chooses food or drinks from a package, container, or can, read the Nutrition Facts Label to see what amount is equal to one serving. Match your child’s portion to the serving size listed on the label to avoid extra calories, fat, and sugar. • Put healthy foods and drinks where they are easy to see and keep high-calorie foods and drinks out of sight—or do not buy them at all.
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Helping Your Child Who is Overweight
by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic
• Eat fast food less often. If you do visit a fast-food restaurant, choose healthier options, such as sliced fruit instead of fries. • Try to sit down to family meals as often as possible, and have fewer meals “on the run.” • Discourage eating in front of the television, computer, or other electronic device. To help your child develop a healthy attitude toward food and eating: • Do not make your child clean his or her plate. • Offer rewards other than food or drinks when encouraging your child to practice healthy habits. Promising dessert for eating vegetables sends a message that vegetables are less valuable than dessert.
To help your child eat less candy, cookies, and other unhealthy snacks, try these healthier snack options instead: • Air-popped popcorn; • Hummus with veggies; • Fresh, frozen, or fruit canned in natural juices; • Fresh vegetables, such as baby carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, or cherry tomatoes; • Nuts and seeds if the child is not allergic. How Can I Help My Child Be More Active? Try to make physical activity fun for your child. Children need about 60 minutes of physical activity a day, although the activity does not have to be all at once. Several short 10- or even 5-minute spurts of activity throughout the day are just as good. If your child is not used to being active, encourage him or her to start out slowly and build up to 60 minutes a day. Reward your child’s efforts to become active and eat healthier with praise and love.
To encourage daily physical activity: • Let your child choose a favorite activity to do regularly, such as climbing a jungle gym at the playground or joining a sports team or dance class.
• Help your child find simple, fun activities to do at home or on his or her own, such as playing tag, jumping rope, playing catch, shooting baskets, or riding a bike. • Limit time with the computer, television, cell phone, and other devices to two hours a day. • Let your child and other family members plan active outings, such as a walk or hike to a favorite spot. How Else Can I Help My Child? You can help your child by being positive and supportive throughout any process or program you choose to help him or her achieve a healthy weight. Help your child set specific goals and track progress. Reward successes with praise and hugs. Tell your child that he or she is loved, special, and important. Children’s feelings about themselves are often based on how they think their parents and other caregivers feel about them.
If your child struggles with weight and you would like to bring him or her in for a free evaluation, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240651-1650. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. We also offer free seminars held at the office on rotating Tuesdays and Thursdays. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road Suite 107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.
*Resource for the article was the National Institute of Health (NIH) (https://www.nih.gov/institutes-nih/nihoffice-director/office-communications).