10 Great Ways To Be A
Fitness Role Model From
eDiets - The online diet, fitness, and healthy living resource
When it comes to the
current state of overweight America, it's become fairly obvious a TV show on
the subject could be titled All in the Family.
But there's nothing remotely funny about
the plague of obesity pounding away at a growing number of men, women and
According to one estimate, 6 in 10 adults
are overweight. More frightening is that fact the nation's children are a short
hop, skip and a jump behind. One study found roughly 1 in 5 children already
face weight woes. The actual number may vary, but the fact remains: kids are
getting fatter and a big chunk of the blame may lie with mom and dad.
By filling up on super-sized servings of
fatty foods and leading couch potato lives, adults are enforcing the message
that overweight is OK. And according to authors/doctors Stu Ditchek and Russ
Greenfield, mom and dad are often the last to notice their kids are
The good news: families are effectively
fighting the fat together. And now you can too with the common-sense advice of
Ditchek and Greenfield, the leading experts who authored Healthy Child,
Whole Child (HarperCollins). As physicians who care for children, the
doctors encounter childhood obesity far too often. But these heart-tugging
experiences have helped them compile a pounds-peeling plan of action for
concerned parents like you.
Ditchek and Greenfield say childhood
obesity stems from less time playing and more time spent plopped in front of a
TV or computer screen. Other factors: too much exposure to advertising to
low-quality food, less parental oversight on food choices, more high-calorie
drinks, and fewer high-fiber foods.
Such unhealthy habits can lead to asthma
and the early onset of type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood
"Parents have to be role models," Dr.
Greenfield tells eDiets. "Part of the obesity problem is that kids are not
eating well and exercising and neither are their parents. Childhood obesity is
exploding. Adult obesity has been increasing in prevalence by leaps and bounds.
Kids dont have much in the way of role models.
"We tell our kids to get up from the
television and go play while we take the channel changer. We have to let kids
see were exercising. We have to involve kids in taking walks after
dinner, crazy dancing or any activity."
The last thing you should do as a
parent is put your child on a traditional food-restricting diet, says Dr.
Greenfield (shown bottom left). Most likely Bobby or Susie already bears a
stigma about being overweight. Telling a child something is off limits will
only serve to boost the burden on their strained shoulders.
Greenfield suggests instilling good eating
habits with the goal of maintaining weight rather than gaining weight as kids
grow taller. And be prepared to practice what you preach.
Dont know where to start? Let Ditchek
and Greenfield get the ball moving with their proven tips for you and your
child to get on the road to a healthy lifestyle.
Take a good look at yourself. At
least 80 percent of overweight children have overweight parents. Genetics is
not the only reason. Consider whether you encourage your children to be
sedentary or to eat poorly, either directly or indirectly. Parental influences
are decisive, because the dietary patterns set in childhood tend to be
permanent. Be prepared to make changes in your own behaviors to become a good
role model. You might even want to turn the tables and ask your kids to give
you stars or stickers for exercising more or making better food choices.
Teach your child how to tell when he/she
is hungry. Learning to recognize the sensations of hunger and satiety may
help a child avoid the kind of mindless eating that causes excess weight.
Respect natural hunger instincts and dont insist young children finish
everything on their plates. Its your job to put healthy food on their plate;
its their job to decide what and how much to eat.
Get more active, in big and little
ways. Studies have found that even fidgeting helps maintain normal weight,
so clearly any amount of exercise can have a beneficial effect. Start small.
Take the stairs rather than the escalator, park a block away from your
destination, and get off the bus one or two stops early. Work up to a total of
45 minutes of exercise (done all at once or throughout the day). If you take a
positive approach toward movement, your children will too. Even the mundane
household chores -- sweeping, washing the car, vacuuming, etc. -- can seem like
Cut back on TV, video and computer
time. American kids spend more time watching a small screen than they do at
any other activity... except sleeping! No child should have a TV in his or her
bedroom. Limit your childrens free-time use of the TV, video and computer to
just one hour a day during the week (you can loosen up a little on the
weekends). This frees up time for physical activity and reduces the number of
ads for junk food and junk behavior that your children see.
Stress high-value over low-value
foods. Overweight children might not eat a greater volume of food than
normal-weight children, but their choices may be higher in empty calories from
added fat and sugar. Educate your child as to which foods are for "every day"
and which are for "occasional" consumption through the casual conversations you
have while buying, preparing, or eating food together.
Make sure there are always every day
foods available in the house and in the car. Keep low-calorie, high-impact
foods like carrot sticks, nonfat yogurt, and apples handy. You might even put a
fresh fruit plate out during the hours when snacking is most likely to occur.
Eat meals together. Sit down
together at the table. You not only gain more control over what your children
eat, but you also improve the chance everyone will get a nutritionally complete
meal. Family dinner is most important, but dont forget overseeing breakfast
too. Breakfast is the main source of fiber, vitamins and minerals for many.
Parents can be role models by eating a good first meal too.
Think about serving size. In this
world of insatiable super-sizers, people have lost sight of what constitutes a
single serving. Toddlers, for instance, need only small amounts of a variety of
foods, not heaping servings.
Dont buy soda except for special
occasions. Overweight children and adults get too many calories from sodas
and fruit drinks. Water tastes great, is good for the body, and contains zero
calories. As alternatives, you can add a little fruit juice to sparkling water
for a refreshing drink or blend nonfat milk or soymilk with fruit and yogurt
for a great-tasting healthy milkshake.
Treat obesity as a family issue.
Research suggests obesity in children is difficult to control unless the whole
family is involved. Dont single out the overweight child for special treatment.
Everyone in the family should be eating well and exercising. Remember: children
dont change, families do.