Help Your Child Maintain a Healthy Weight with These 5 Strategies

If you’re a parent of a school age chid, chances are you have received a note from the school nurse outlining your child’s growth patterns and their BMI.  Sometimes this can create a sense of frustration, but others may feel a sense of defeat.  We know that childhood obesity is a concern.  Obesity in general can lead to many health concerns including heart disease, diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea, social stigma and psychological pain.  We already know that studies (1 and 2) show obese children are more likely to become obese adults.  With all this in front of us, as concerned parents, what can we do?

Here are five tips to take the focus off of your child’s weight and instead focus on habits and health!  Create an environment where its no longer about a number on the scale or a BMI chart, but instead about the choices that they make.

1) Fresh Fruits & Veggies

Parents, we are the ones who are doing the grocery shopping. We need to have fresh fruits and vegetables on hand and EASILY accessible for the children to eat.  When you purchase produce, wash and prepare it so it is easy for the kids to grab as a snack.  We keep containers of carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, grapes, and apples in our fridge for the kids to be able to just grab and GO!

2) Help Kids Stay Active

If you are the parent of a toddler, you are just waiting for the day when they keep your kids movingjust CHILL!  Unfortunately, when our kids are ready to just chill, its hard to
get them moving again.  As a parent, we need to make sure we encourage our children to be active with fun games and family activity.  Going on walks
together, jumping rope, tag, or enrolling your child in a youth sport or dance.  In the summer with longer days, this is certainly easier.  In the winter with shorter daylight, youth sports or dance are easy ways to get in active time.  Also take advantage of indoor recreation centers.  Allow your children to be as creative as they can be with their active movements!

3) Limit Screen Time

If you follow me at all, you know that one of my passions is to use technology responsibly with my children.  This means that I have specific times and specific days of the week when my children are permitted to use their screens.too much technology This includes gaming systems, iPads, Kindles, television and web surfing. We have a set limit of two hours a day and weekends are only one hour in the mornings. By having a set time for screens, you then force your children to come up with other activities.  In the summer, we even reduce the two hours to 30 minutes!   When we limit screen time for kids, we help them to create healthy habits of exercise and movement!

4) REMOVE THE JUNK FOOD!

Most people who know me know that I’m not once to mince words.  So I’m going to share a bit of tough love here — Parents, WE are the ones who are  buying the groceries.   WE need to be responsible.  Tip number one was to offer more fresh vegetables and fruits and I’m going to take it even a step further and encourage you to save sweets & treats for once a week or a special occasion.  Snacks really should be low calorie and high nutritional dense foods such as apples, bananas, berries, grapes, or vegetables like carrots, broccoli, peppers with hummus.  If you have an ice cream junkie in your house like I do, you can also blend frozen bananas or berries to make a “nice cream”.  If you don’t have the junk food in your house you can’t eat it!  The bonus is this helps YOU as much as it does your kids!

5) Understand PORTION = Power!

There is a tremendous amount of power in understanding portions.  If you are not familiar with what portions look like, choosemyplate.gov is a great resource.   Both you and your children should eat a variety of fruit, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, low fat dairy daily.  But don’t forget the WATER!  Lots & lots of water. Be mindful of how many calories your children are drinking.  Really limit or eliminate sugary beverages like soda, juice or fruit punch.

For more in-depth details on portion and meal planning for families check out the Jumpstart to Meal Planning Success.

what are kid friendly portionsReferences:
1 Whitaker RC, Wright JA, Pepe MS, Seidel KD, Dietz WH. Predicting obesity in young adulthood from childhood and parental obesity. N Engl J Med 1997; 37(13):869–873.
2 Serdula MK, Ivery D, Coates RJ, Freedman DS. Williamson DF. Byers T. Do obese children become obese adults? A review of the literature. Prev Med 1993;22:167–177.

3 Ways To Talk To Your Kids About Gratitude

Teaching gratitudeThis is the time of year when we are talking about gratitude.  Many take the gratitude challenge on their social media by sharing daily for what they are grateful.  Others, simply journal and some do nothing.  We know from various research studies that instilling gratitude within ourselves and our children can increases happiness, grant perspective, improve relationships and counteract the “I WANT IT”.

Most of us can agree that teaching our children to say “thank you” is important, but gratitude goes beyond manners. Gratitude is a way of life, with deeper meaning and understanding.

We all want our children to be happy and search for the silver lining in all circumstances.  We want healthy relationships and to have a deep appreciation of what we have versus thinking we NEED everything we see on television or in magazines.  I’m sure we can agree that none of us set out to raise “entitled” children.

These three tips  will help you to instill a TRUE attitude of gratitude in your children:

1. Share YOUR gratitude and share it often

Taking time each day to count your blessings is not just important for us as parents, but also our children.  Most of our five and six year old kids don’t have social media to create a status update to tell us for what they are grateful.  (at least I hope they don’t!)  Take time each day to share something for which you are thankful.  Maybe this is at dinner or at bedtime prayers, but share!  If you have tweens or teens, they may even enjoy keeping a written journal of their gratitude before bed.   During times of difficulty, negativity or sad times, taking a few extra minutes each day to focus on our blessings results in a pretty substantial attitude shift.

2. Avoid too much givingThankfulness scripture

As parents, we always want what is best for our children, but I’m not suggesting we refuse buying our children the essentials of life.  Instead, resist the temptation to buy your kids whatever they want, whenever they want it.  Doing so makes it hard for children to develop an appreciation and respect for their possessions.  They end up with too much stuff and lacking an appreciation for their toys or devices and are constantly setting their sights on the next shiny new object.  There is nothing wrong with asking children to help contribute to larger purchases, either!  Putting a little “skin in the game” helps to teach gratitude and appreciation.

3. Find the silver lining

Have you ever looked at a situation and felt defeated?  Well our children are no different! When faced with challenges or negativity, it is just as helpful to our children as it is to us!  Helping your children to look for the bright side will teach them the attitude of gratitude.  This is more about perspective than circumstance.

Remember that car driving slowly on your way to work when you’re already late?  ….to then drive by the police shooting radar, which would have SURELY resulted in a speeding ticket?  SILVER LINING!  It can be very easy to go to a place of pity.  By helping your children to find THEIR silver lining in time of distress we are giving them coping skills to feel happier and more successful.

Did you find these three tips helpful?  Grab your FREE additional tips for teaching gratitude here:How to teach your children Gratitude

Comment below to share how you instill a sense of gratitude with your children!  I’d love to hear from those with children already grown, too!  What has worked for you?

Erin Lewis holds both a bachelor and master’s degree in education and specializes in teaching others to be their best. As a busy wife and mom of three, she has a passion for transforming the way families define wellness. Using faith, food and fitness, Erin has helped hundreds of people push past their excuses to create the life they have always wanted to live. Erin is the author of Faith4Moms Devotions, creator of The Stress-Free Jumpstart to Meal Planning Success, a certified TurboKick® and PiYo Live® Pro Instructor, Diamond Team Beachbody Coach and Success Club Legend.

One Simple Trick To Get Picky Kids to Eat Healthy

how to help picky eaters

You’ve just slaved over an amazing dinner.  The kitchen is filled with the smells of delicious food.  Everyone sits at the table together and then it starts.  The “EWWWW, I don’t like this”, “do I have to eat this?”, “I’m not hungry”.  Then we get discouraged and feel like we shouldn’t even bother.  But like you, I got TIRED of this exhausting cycle and decided it was time to make some changes!

My husband and I created a “Family Food Pact” and this applies to everyone eating with us, including the ADULTS!

1) No complaining about Food

No one is FORCED to eat anything, we just don’t allowed or tolerate negative food talk.  See, the entire point of food is for nourishment, not comfort, entertainment or just because you’re bored.  When we complain about the food, it is disrespectful to the cook and says that we don’t appreciate the work it took to prepare the meal.  If one of the kids  complains, it is an immediate pick from the consequences can!  Negativity spreads like  wildfire!  It must be nipped ASAP!

2) Food is not a reward

I have to work with many of my health coaching clients on this same concept.  We treat ourselves to ice cream or cookies. If we try one bite we get dessert.  Or even worse, if you don’t eat your veggies, there are negative consequences (early bedtime, a spanking, no TV).  As parents, we want our children to develop memories of people and events — NOT food.  By making the focus on food, we will constantly struggle with this.

3) Mealtime is Family Time

I’ll be totally honest and say that my husband and I both go crazy about this pact!  VERY, VERY rarely are outside activities  allowed to interfere with dinner.  Yes, this is tough, but necessary.  I’m also often asked if we all eat the same thing.  The answer is YES and we eat it with a positive attitude.  family meal time

4)  Try it Again & Again

Look, I get it!  I”m a very picky eater myself.  But I eat waaaaaay more food these days than I ever did before.  Even as an adult.  SO our pact is that we each are willing to try at least one small bite of the food served.  This can be as simple as one green bean, one bite of chicken or one bite of sweet potatoes!  If you like it, GREAT!  You can always ask for more.  Don’t like it?  NO PROBLEM!  We praise their willingness to try foods.

5) A Hungry Tummy is OK!

I know children who are given a snack as soon as their tummy growls or they are just a little hungry.  Or they feel like enjoying a bowl of cheesy crackers.  Or we are trying to entertain them in public or on a longer car ride.  Look, I get it!  Sometimes we just need to do what to do to save our sanity, right!?  But it is when we make daily, or sometimes multiple times a day, that it becomes a problem.  We we have normal hunger at meal times, we are all more likely to eat whatever is served and eat enough of it to avoid hunger pangs 30 minutes after clean up.   We should all want our children to learn how to identify what it feels likes to be full and hungry.  The constant indulging in snacks and eating does not give our tummies a chance to inform us that we are hungry.  Then we are less likely to try foods.how to limit snacks

6) Quality not Quantity

When we are eating whole foods our bodies know exactly how to process and use the fuel we nourish ourselves with.  This is easier when we actually cook from scratch.  YES, this involves a little planning and preparation, but when we focus on real ingredients and real food, it can be done with less stress.  One of the things I teach in The Stress-Free Jumpstart to Meal Planing Success is getting the kids involved! When everyone is involved and invested, they start to encourage OTHERS to eat the quality food that has been prepared.

Does your family have any rules around meals, food or nutrition?  What works for you?