Tips for parents to prevent childhood obesity
  • Forget the “Clean your plate” rule. Thin people have a knack for stopping when full. Learn to recognize the signs of fullness and that it’s not the same for all children. Offer reasonable fist-sized portions. Most bowls, cups, and bottles are too large! 
  • Healthy food choices start in the grocery store . Keep all healthy foods for snack in accessible places. Don’t stock tempting, unhealthy foods at home (cookies, juice, soda, chips). Sweet drinks such as soda and even juice lead to obesity and diabetes for many. Offer only milk (up to 3 servings per day) and water. An apple or orange eaten has many more health benefits than drinking its juice! Purchase less healthy foods in smaller individual packages to limit amounts.
  • Learn the difference between cravings and hunger. Hunger usually occurs 2 to 4 hours of not eating. Cravings are stimulated by feelings of boredom, stress or the environment.
  • When it comes to eating, focus only on eating. Eat for the pleasure of tasting and enjoying food. You will feel more satisfied. Break the grazing habit; save it for special events such as the Super Bowl. Eat only at the table. Don’t do other things while eating such as watching TV or reading. Try family meals and pleasant conversation; it’s always welcome.
  • Don’t use food as a reward . As an incentive for good behavior or grades, try offering a social activity, privilege or material reward; not food. Don’t regard sweets as a special treat; put as much value in a fruit or vegetable treat. Don’t use food to celebrate, show love, or comfort the sad.
  • Encourage activity. Instead of dashing to the kitchen during commercials, get up and do the “TV commercial boogie”! Boredom often triggers the desire to eat. Make a list of “distractible” things they could do instead of eating (jump rope, basketball, projects…) Walk; don’t drive or take the elevator when you have a choice. Game boy addicts…try out the Dance Revolution! Pull the plug on “electronic babysitters”; limit TV, video games & computer use. Allow child no more than 2 hours “screen time” per day.

If you are interested in local Weight Management Programs for children, click here

For a look at the new USDA guidelines for proper portions individualized for your child, consult MyPyramid.gov.

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