All in the Family
- Approach food choices and exercise as a family project and set an example of healthy eating and exercise habits.
- Read food labels looking for calorie, sugar and fiber content in particular.
- Avoid isolating or singling out the child (or children) with weight issues.
- Avoid eating fast food more than 1-2 times per month (do it as a treat!).
Call a TV timeout and stay on the move
- Take the stairs, walk the dog, ride bikes, and engage in formal athletic activities (when possible). Try to have some physical activity daily.
- Keep total daily “screen time” to less than 1-2 hours per day.
Eat more slowly and monitor portion size
Take 20 or more minutes until second servings, preferably limiting to one serving per meal.
Be aware of the USDA daily calorie recommendations for children. The recommended calorie intake in children depends on age, gender, and activity level. Summary of approximate calorie goals:
- 1-3 years old: (girls) 750-1250, (boys) 850-1300
- 4-8 years old (girls) 1300-1600, (boys) 1400-1700
- 9-13 years old (girls) 1700-2000, (boys) 1800-2300
- 14-18 years old (girls) 2000, (boys) 2500-2800
Limit sugar and fructose intake
- Encourage your child to drink low fat milk, water and a max of 4-8oz per day of fruit juice. Avoid, or at least minimize: sport drinks, energy drinks, flavored milks, flavored drinks, and soft drinks (12oz non-diet soda = 150 calories & 10 teaspoons of sugar).
- High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) was introduced to the U.S. market in the mid-1970s. HFCS is used as a sweetener (cheaper than cane sugar) and preservative (extends shelf life) in processed foods, bread, condiments, and soft drinks.
- There is conflicting research on HFCS’s health effects, but some of the research shows an association with obesity. Fructose acts biologically like fat and is toxic to the liver in large doses; it also delays satiety (feeling full).
Encourage a high fiber diet
- The fiber goal (> 2 years old) in grams per day = age in years plus 5-10 grams per day (max 30-35 grams per day).
- Promote fresh fruit, veggies, beans, and whole grains (see websites below to get list of high fiber foods).
- Fiber health benefits: slows the absorption of fructose (see above), helps control blood cholesterol levels, decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and promotes general colon health.