As parents, we undoubtedly want the best for our children. But raising children to be healthy and happy can be a real challenge in today’s crazy world!
We want them to wear the most beautiful clothes, attend the best schools, be at the top of their classes, and simply be happy.
But c’mon, let’s face it, no matter how hard we try, we are not always going to be 100% on track with our kids. And you know what? That’s ok because as our children grow, we do too. In fact, we often learn just as much, if not more, than they do.
Now, if you were going to ask me what I want for my baby girl, my answer would be simple.
I want my daughter to be healthy and happy.
I want her to be as active as possible.
I don’t want her eating all that food-like crap on the shelves of every grocery store.
Simple enough, right?
Childhood obesity is on the rise
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “the percentage of children and adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s.”
While several factors contribute to obesity (genetics, environment, lack of resources), the primary cause of obesity is overeating. With the astonishing rise of “food like” products in today’s world, food addiction has become an impending crisis.
We are hooked on a diet that is wrecking our body chemistry, including our insulin and leptin levels.
These two crucial hormones are in control of several body functions that relate to a person’s weight, including when to eat and when to stop eating. When your insulin levels increase, so does your storage of fat cells.
So how exactly is leptin produced? Yup. By your fat cells.
Bottom line: The more leptin our body produces, the harder it is to stop overeating and the more overweight you become.
The challenge of keeping your children healthy and happy
Life is not easy, but our generation certainly has had more accessibility than the previous one.
The majority of the time, we seldom work hard for what we want. In fact, we are obsessed with technology that limits the way we perceive and accept knowledge. We also rely on programs to perform some of the simplest tasks for us merely because we are too lazy!
So yes, it’s challenging to raise a child in today’s society, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. By giving up, you’re accepting the drastic change in our food culture that is on its way to becoming a global epidemic.
There is good news. You can change the world by first changing your ways.
Don’t know where to start? Here are the ABCs of raising healthy and happy children.
Always staying active
Whether your child is six months or 6 years, you both can be active together.
We all lead hectic lives and getting a workout in is usually the last thing on anyone’s mind. BUT, what if I told you don’t really have to work out?
Make it a game! Playing common games with toddlers, such as Simon Says or Red Light Green Light, can be quickly transformed into a fun and sweaty workout. When our children are still young, it’s easier to get them moving. By just asking “Do you want to play a game?” they’ll jump up and respond “What kind of game?”
This is your cue to show them how fun working out can be!
Be their role model
Kids look up to their parents (or elders in general) for everything.
I’m pretty sure you’ve caught your kid copying what you say or mirroring what you do. Children tend to mimic those who are close to them. By doing so, they are absorbing and memorizing your every move.
Don’t forget that a child’s brain is like a sponge. According to Maria Montessori, of the book The Absorbent Mind:
“The child has a different relation to his environment from ours…the child absorbs it. The things he sees are not just remembered; they form part of his soul. He incarnates in himself all in the world about him that his eyes see and his ears hear.”
In other words, take advantage of your little sponges!
Cut back on processed goods
Has anyone here ever heard of the “5-Ingredient Rule”? Basically, if an item has more than five ingredients on the label, you shouldn’t buy it.
Am I a fan of this rule? Mmh, not really, but I’m not against it, either.
There are good intentions behind it, like avoiding overly processed foods and all those added sugars and preservatives.
Be wary because food marketers are crazy good at what they do. They will find a way to fit fewer ingredients on a label just so they can make the claim that it’s healthy.
People, read your labels.
Do you need to go all crazy and banish sweets and junk food from your home entirely? No, you really don’t. In fact, I have a bag full of Hershey’s and Chips Ahoy under my bed, and there is no shame in that.
What you can do is provide healthy snacks in a fun way so your kids are more willing to eat them. By simply googling “fun snack ideas”, you will come across tons of ideas including animal faces toast, vegetable lunch kabobs, and banana sushi!
Don’t just tell your kids how awesome it is being healthy, show them!
In the end, the best thing you can do is follow these ABCs and practice developing healthy habits. Stay consistent with your children, and I promise you, your hard work will pay off.
Author’s bio: Lena is a freelance writer and the owner of RattlePen.com, a blog dedicated to health and fitness. She has a one-year-old daughter and is currently double majoring in psychology and nutrition.