Childhood Obesity is on the rise! There are two strong predictors for obesity, according to University of Washington Dietician, Judy Simon. They are:
- You often grab fried food from fast food restaurants.
- You skip breakfast.
Students are rushing off to early high school classes, and skipping breakfast. Then at lunch, they pile into cars, and head to fast food restaurants, where they can eat off of the dollar menu cheaply. Forty-eight percent of teens eat fast food daily. How many of them are eating their 5 to 7 servings of fruits and vegetables daily?
Other predictors of obesity include:
- Whether or not your family eats meals together.
- A high consumption of sugared drinks.
The average seventeen year old teen, drinks over 13% of their calories in the form of sports drinks, fruit flavored drinks full of sugar rather than fruit, and sodas. Two-thirds of teens drink sodas daily, and most teens eat only one or two sit down meals a day, and snack for the rest of their meals.
The result of this behavior, is that childhood obesity is skyrocketing, and teens are gaining weight at an alarming rate, and developing diabetes, or metabolic syndrome. These symptoms used to be associated with 40 to 50 year olds. Kids need to learn healthy diet habits from their parents, and moms can be very influential in this, because they can buy and serve healthy meals at home.
Here is a list of sobering overweight statistics and obese statistics.
Healthy Diet Habits for Breakfast to help prevent Childhood Obesity
Kids need to eat a healthy breakfast. Provide many grab and go breakfast items that are healthy or quick.
Some Healthy Diet Habits for breakfast are:
- Yogurt with high fiber cereal on top, or just the yogurt. The Greek ones are great.
- Fruits like bananas, apples, pears or an orange. Fruit is a lot better than fruit juices that contain a lot of sugar and no fiber.
- Cheese sticks, or Laughing Cow Cheeses
- Toasted 100% whole wheat, or whole grain waffles with peanut butter.
- Fruit smoothie with yogurt and real fruit and protein powder.
- Peanut butter, or almond butter, or cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread with a banana.
- Non-sweetened oatmeal with fresh blueberries.
- Whole grain muffins with fruit and nuts. (The Costco muffins do not count as a healthy breakfast choice. They vary between 800 and 1000 calories, and are full of sugar.
- Whole grain muffin with an egg and Canadian bacon.
Parents, please keep well stocked breakfast items! Please do not buy the high sugar cereals as these will not help your child to concentrate well. Aim for cereals that are loaded with high fiber (10 gm per serving), because they will stay with your child longer.
Healthy Diet Habits for Lunch to help prevent Childhood Obesity
Kids also need to eat a healthy lunch. Lunch choices are difficult, because many kids will throw out their lunch and buy fast food anyway. School cafeterias try to offer some healthy foods, but kids have many other choices that are not healthy, and they are more drawn to the unhealthy choices. It is hard to really know what your kids are eating for lunch, but I would still encourage parents to provide a great lunch.
Some ideas for a healthy lunch are:
- Sandwiches on 100% whole wheat, or whole grain bread, tortillas or crackers. Use lean meats and ones that are nitrate-free.
- Veggie sticks or chopped vegetables for sandwiches, like Subway does them. Put these in a baggie to be added later so the sandwich is not soggy.
- Single serving hummus packages for a dip with your veggies.
- Look for smaller choices of chip bags. There are chips in smaller bags that are not so caloric like Sun chips that are 140 calories for the bag.
- Fresh fruit or chopped fruit.
- Leftovers from dinner.
- Whatever your kids love, plus some fresh veggies and fruits.
Other Healthy Diet Habits that can help prevent Childhood Obesity
Other helpful Healthy Diet Habits to incorporate in your family lifestyle that can help prevent childhood obesity are:
- Keep the processed foods out whenever possible. Processed foods are those that come with a bar code or do not spoil easily. Real food will spoil!
- Do not buy sugared drinks for your kids, and emphasize how unhealthy they are for their health and weight. Encourage water. It is free, has zero calories, and it will save their teeth.
- Eat together as families as much as possible.
- Please limit eating out at fast food restaurants, especially as your student may have eaten lunch out also that day.
- Easy meals can be made with a Costco chicken deboned and stir fried, with tons of different fresh vegetables. Many stores now have pre-cut fresh vegetables that are great for stir fries. Serve this over brown rice.
- Follow the half plate rule! Try to fill your plates half full of fruits and vegetables, a quarter of your plate should be a healthy carbohydrate and a quarter of your plate should be your lean protein.
- Develop 10 quick and healthy meals that you can whip up for your family in a half an hour.
- Help your kids and teens to know calorie basics from an early age, so they can develop healthy diet habits. I do not think most teens would drink a Jamba Juice or Starbucks drink that contained 500 to 1000 calories, if they knew the calorie counts and understood what they meant.
- Most restaurants offer many lower calorie healthy choices. Put together a fast food book of calorie counts for your teen from their favorite fast food restaurants, so they can make wise choices. Calorie statistics are on-line for most restaurants. This is one Lifestyle Solution that is helpful for the entire family.
- Moms are the gate keeper of the family diet, because they purchase most of the foods that are available to their families. Skip the aisles in stores, and shop the outer edges where the healthy foods are located.
Remember that your kids are looking to you for health guidance, and that is a big responsibility! If you are seeking to add healthy diet habits for your family, and make lifestyle changes, your entire family will benefit.