As the winter quickly approaches, it”s no secret that many kids will be stuck inside looking for fun and will unfortunately, turn to the TV, the computer or the cookie jar for entertainment during the colder months.
Miriam B. Vos, M.D., M.S.P.H., pediatric hepatologist at Children”s Healthcare of Atlanta, specializes in obesity prevention, complications of obesity in children and pediatric fatty liver disease. Dr. Vos works with children and their families to implement healthy habits into their lifestyle for the winter and beyond. Dr. Vos suggests the following:
- Increase Physical Activity
- Reduce Sugar and Sweetened Beverages
- Family Meals and Consistent Eating Patterns
- Recognition and Response to Hunger and Fullness Cues
- Development of Positive Body Image
- Decrease Sedentary Behaviors
Encouraging children to consume healthy foods and sustain an active lifestyle does not have to become a household power-struggle. The key for parents in setting the proper nutritional example is to follow the three “P”s”#. Planning, preparing and providing healthy meals and snacks for the family will ensure the right foods are being consumed. For instance:
- Plan the times you will have snacks at home
- Plan the foods you will provide as snacks
- Think in colors – add fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors
- Think in textures – smooth, crunchy or chewy
- Think finger food sizes
- Think of adding low-fat milk or water to drink
Understanding what to eat is only half the battle. Kids often don”t know when they”ve had enough. Snacking in front of the television or rushing through a meal to get back to their favorite video game are distractions that keep kids from listening to their bodies.
Teaching children to listen to their personalized hunger/fullness scale, the body”s signals that ask for nourishment, will help them decide how hungry they are before a meal and how full they are during the meal. Once they can stay in tune with these indicators, children will know when to stop eating.
Parents can teach this by following simple tips:
- Before beginning a meal or snack – remove distractions (TV, games, toys, loud music, homework)
- Relieve stress with a few deep breaths
- Rate hunger or fullness on a scale of 1-10
- Decide how much you are going to eat
- Serve yourself food
- During the meal – sit up straight, eat slowly, have pleasant talk
- Half way through the meal, rate your hunger/fullness again, decide if you need to eat more or not
Once parents can teach their children the benefits of making healthy lifestyle choices in terms of nutrition and physical activity, summer vacation can provide the same worry free environment for kids without stressing the parents out about their family”s long-term health.
About Tips Provider:
Children”s Healthcare of Atlanta, one of the leading pediatric healthcare systems in the country, is pleased to offer summer tips for parents and their children. Click on the links for more information. Children”s experts are also available for interviews pertaining to these topics, as well as additional pediatric health care issues.
Children”s is a not-for-profit organization that benefits from the generous philanthropic and volunteer support of our community. Operating three hospitals with more than half a million patient visits annually, Children”s is recognized for excellence in cancer, cardiac, neonatal, orthopaedic and transplant services, as well as many other pediatric specialties. Visit our Web site at www.choa.org or call 404-250-KIDS to learn more about Children”s Healthcare of Atlanta.