Achieving a Healthy Weight
Healthy eating and physical activity are keys to maintaining a healthy weight. Being at a healthy weight is related to a reduction in several serious health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, stroke (brain attack), and certain cancers. For those that are overweight, even a modest weight loss can have a positive impact on your health. Healthy weight can also impact your energy levels, sleep habits, self-esteem, psychological health, and health care costs.
Maintaining Your Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is a result of an overall average of calories consumed and calories burned. Taking in more calories than you burn with activity will lead to weight gain. If you burn more calories through activity than you consume, you will lose weight. Having a few high calorie snacks/meals or a day of inactivity can be balanced with overall healthy food choices and physical activity. It is important to take care of yourself with sensible health habits such as avoiding exercise when injured.
Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight
Much of what we eat is quick and easy—from fat-laden fast food to microwave and prepackaged meals. Daily schedules are so jam-packed that there’s little time to prepare healthier meals or to squeeze in some exercise. Portion sizes, in the home and out, have grown greatly.
Plus, now more than ever life is sedentary—kids spend more time playing with electronic devices, from computers to handheld video game systems, than actively playing outside. Television is a major culprit.
Preventing kids from becoming overweight means adapting the way your family eats and exercises, and how you spend time together. Helping kids lead healthy lifestyles begins with parents who lead by example.
Healthy Eating is important for all age levels. Starting with breastfeeding for infants, a lifetime of choosing nutrient dense food and beverages will contribute to lowering risk factors for many chronic diseases and conditions.
Get your kids involved by letting them help you plan and prepare healthy meals, and take them along when you go grocery shopping so they can learn how to make good food choices.
And avoid falling into these common food/eating behavior traps:
Recommendations by Age
Additional recommendations for kids of all ages:
- Birth to age 1: In addition to its many health benefits, breastfeeding may help prevent excessive weight gain. Though the exact mechanism is not known, breastfed babies may be more able to control their own intake and follow their own internal hunger cues.
- Ages 1 to 5: Start good habits early. Help shape food preferences by offering a variety of healthy foods. Encourage kids’ natural tendency to be active and help them build on developing skills.
- Ages 6 to 12: Encourage kids to be physically active every day, whether through an organized sports team or a pick-up game of soccer during recess. Keep your kids active at home, too, through everyday activities like walking and playing in the yard. Let them be more involved in making good food choices, such as packing lunch.
- Ages 13 to 18: Teens like fast food, but try to steer them toward healthier choices like grilled chicken sandwiches, salads, and smaller sizes. Teach them how to prepare healthy meals and snacks at home. Encourage teens to be active every day.
- All ages: Cut down on TV, computer, and video game time and discourage eating while watching the tube. Serve a variety of healthy foods and eat meals together as often as possible. Encourage kids to have at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, limit sugar-sweetened beverages, and eat breakfast every day.
If you eat well, exercise regularly, and incorporate healthy habits into your family’s daily life, you’re modeling a healthy lifestyle for your kids that will last. Talk to them about the importance of eating well and being active, but make it a family affair that will become second nature for everyone.
Most of all let your kids know you love them—no matter what their weight—and that you want to help them be happy and healthy.