RESOURCES FOR PARENTS
Experts say that over 26% of white American Children are overweight, 33% of the nation’s African American and Hispanic children are overweight, and millions of American children are obese. If your child is one of them, there are things you can do now to help your child get on the right path toward a healthy, more active lifestyle. Now is the time, because this is the time in your child’s life that the patterns are set that will last a lifetime.
And there is much a family can do for and with their overweight child beyond going to a summer camp. Here are four simple things any parent can do to make a difference right now. But remember: your child can’t do it alone. Make healthy living and eating a family affair. The support of the entire family is so essential. After all, what’s the worse that can happen, you all get healthier together?
The first thing you can do is get your child walking. Every day, with every step, your child can change their life. The best way to make walking a lifestyle, and not just a way to get from the sofa to the refrigerator, is for your child to wear a pedometer every day. The pedometer keeps count of every step your child takes. Then you can simply set goals for how many steps to take every day. And you can impose a simple rule: no television or computer games, for instance, until they’ve stepped up and met their goal.
You can buy a pedometer at any sporting goods store, or you can buy one online. Buy one for your child…and maybe one for yourself, so you can set an example.
Snacks are forbidden, right? Wrong. It’s simply impossible to keep a child from ever snacking. But for too many children, snacks turn into full-blown meals chock full of unhealthy fats, starches, salt and sugar. How do you keep a child from snacking their way through a whole day’s calories? Control the portion size.
A good friend to Louie’s Kids, Tracy Adler, has invented the YumYum Dish. It’s a great 4 ounce dish your child will love. They can fill it up with their favorite snack, but when the bowl is empty, snack time is over. That sure beats your child sitting down with a bag of chips and bingeing their way through half of it before they even know it. It’s a tool that can work for all of us.
BE A ROLE MODEL
You are the most important influence on your child. You can do many things to help your children develop healthy eating habits for life. Offering a variety of foods helps children get the nutrients they need from every food group. They will also be more likely to try new foods and to like more foods. When children develop a taste for many types of foods, it’s easier to plan family meals. Cook together, eat together, talk together, and make mealtime a family time —if your child’s eating multiple helpings of food, and you’re there to watch, it’s a ripe opportunity for you to ask how their day was -is school going okay or “pick a subject and let’s talk!”
TAKE A WALK
This is an excerpt from an amazing book written by Richard Louv. Mr. Louv is the author of seven books that deal with family, nature and the community. Mr. Louv is a columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune and has written for magazines and newspapers as well. This is a startling look at what’s wrong with a culture of kids getting bigger by the minute. There are studies that suggest just 2 additional 20 minute walks, added to your daily regmen of some kind; each week constitutes 10 pounds of weight loss in 6 weeks. Read on and get moving!
“I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are,” reports a fourth grader. But it’s not only computers, television, and video games that are keeping kids inside. It’s also their parents’ fears of traffic, strangers, Lyme disease, and West Nile virus; their schools’ emphasis on more and more homework; their structured schedules; and their lack of access to natural areas. Local governments, neighborhood associations, and even organizations devoted to the outdoors are placing legal and regulatory constraints on many wild spaces, sometimes making natural play a crime.
As children’s connections to nature diminish and the social, psychological, and spiritual implications become apparent, new research shows that nature can offer powerful therapy for such maladies as depression, obesity, and attention deficit disorder. Environment-based education dramatically improves standardized test scores and grade-point averages and develops skills in problem solving, critical thinking, and decision making. Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that childhood experiences in nature stimulate creativity.