Australia really is a land of plenty. We have the most fantastic access to outdoor space – if not our own backyards there are beaches, mountains, national parks and lots of green areas, but we are now along with America one of the “Fattest” nations on the planet.
Talking of plenty, there is also plenty of food, shopping centres are stacked with food courts, with mostly foods that should only be consumed on a very sometimes basis, we have drive throughs, take aways, in fact if you sit and study a busy sidewalk – it is interesting to pick the people who do not have something to eat in their hands. Supermarkets are stacked full of foods that are processed, high fat, sugar and full of preservatives.
The side effects of too much eating and not enough doing are very well documented, but we seem to be unable to help ourselves. This poor living is being passed onto the younger generation who are now the first generation who are not expected live as long as their parents because of the health issues caused by this.
I understand very well that childhood overweight and obesity as well as adult obesity is a sensitive issue, but we need to de sensitise it and get onto stopping it. Prevention is definitely better than cure – trying to reverse overweight / obesity is just so hard, prevention is what I see to be way forward.
So here are seven ways you can help your child if you think they are becoming overweight:
Before anything else, it is important to do something about it, acknowledge it is happening and tackle it.
- Remember food is primarily needed to fuel our bodies and should never be used as a reward / punishment
- To start, keep a food log and wear a pedometer ($2.50 at Kmart) – naturally we overestimate how much exercise we do and underestimate how much we eat.
- Kids should not be forced to clean their plates – if they say they are full remove the plate – otherwise you over ride their natural ability to know when they have had enough.
- Cut out fizzy drinks and fruit juice.
- Eat slowly and you will eat less – if your child has less on their plate they will eat less but still be satisfied – watch portion sizes.
- Don’t let your child eat in front of the TV – they eat more and they crave high fat and sugar foods
- Up the amount of incidental exercise, think of ways to introduce exercise into your daily routine, try and walk to school, the shops or activities, start walking as a family – go to the beach, go for a bush walk.
Good luck and let me know how you go.