When many of us think of childhood obesity, we tend to focus on visible physical effects. But it affects many other areas of children’s lives, including their self-esteem and general health and wellness. Today one in six children in the U.S. has obesity. Left untreated, obesity can lead to chronic complications such as high blood pressure, asthma, sleep apnea, and type 2 diabetes.
A lot of factors can contribute to obesity, including genetics, metabolism, and even sleeping patterns. As you work to build solid, healthier eating and lifestyle habits for your family, remember to be patient with yourselves as positive results develop.
Here are five easy ways to help start your child on the path to healthier eating:
- Make a healthy grocery checklist tailored to your family’s tastes. Instead of going “cold turkey,” bring home just a few new items each time you shop. This tactic will allow you to test your family’s taste buds and help them get used to the new foods.
- In lunches, periodically replace cookies and other sugar- and fat-laden snacks with a Clementine or other piece of whole fruit, or a small crush-proof container filled with grapes or mixed fresh berries.
- Add fiber any time by mixing flavorless fiber powder into beverages or sprinkling it on breakfast cereal.
- Introduce one new healthy meal option each week. You can start by modifying a family favorite. For example, use whole grain pasta and substitute ground turkey or chicken for half of the ground beef the next time you make spaghetti and meatballs.
- Make dinner salads interesting by cutting up and adding different kinds of fruits and vegetables such as apples, a handful of dried cranberries, orange and red bell peppers, or jicama (it’s crunchy, slightly sweet, and loaded with vitamins and dietary fiber).
In addition to developing healthier eating habits, try creating family play time for 30 minutes to an hour a couple of times a week. You can make it fun by having everyone switch off their electronic gadgets. Consider devoting this time to a group activity such as bike riding on a local trail. (FunTip: If the weather is rainy or too cold, move the cars into the driveway and play dodge ball in your garage!)
When it comes to your family’s health and well-being, talk to Teladoc. Our doctors are board-certified in specialties such as pediatrics and family medicine. Download our award-winning mobile app and you’ll have on-the-spot access 24/7 anytime, anyplace in the U.S., with a median wait time of around 10 minutes, all in the comfort and convenience of home. Eat well and live well with Teladoc.
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