Fighting Obesity: Healthy Eating

It’s no secret that obesity in America is on the rise.  Over the past 40 years, obesity rates in children have more than tripled.  Parents can help their children learn to live a healthy lifestyle and fight obesity from a very early age.  Following are a few tips that parents can use to help children develop healthy eating habits.

First, remove temptation for your children.  Stock up on healthy and nutritious snacks, such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts.  Keep these foods in easily accessible locations that are convenient for your children.  Put snacks like cookies in less accessible locations and save them for special occasions.

Second, plan regular meals and snacks.  Missing meals can lead to on-the-go snacking and unhealthy food choices.  With regular meals and snacks, you can teach healthy eating habits by providing nutritious choices.

Third, involve your children in meal planning.  Try giving your child two or three healthy options for supper (chicken and rice or meatloaf and carrots), then involve them in the preparation process in an age appropriate manner.  For example, you can ask younger children to help you measure or stir the food.  Children are more likely to eat healthy foods when they feel it’s their own choice, and they get a sense of accomplishment by helping you prepare the meal.

Finally, be conscious of portion size.  Rather than letting everyone prepare their own dishes, try preparing your family’s meals for them by dividing up the food into age appropriate portion.  This will help ensure that your children eat from each of the different food groups, and it will also help them to resist overeating.

What are some other ways you encourage your family members to eat healthy?

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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