March is National Nutrition Month. This is a good time to start thinking about health and your family. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an epidemic of childhood obesity exists in our nation. Childhood obesity can contribute to poor health that may continue into adulthood. It can also cause increased risk for Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
During the years of 2000-2004, there was a dramatic upswing in childhood obesity, especially in children between the ages of 2 and 4. During the years of 2010-2014, the childhood obesity rates in 2- to 4-year-olds have dropped by 2.1 percent. The rate of childhood obesity still remains to be a major problem within our state and our country.
· Find ways to make favorite dishes healthier. For example, with macaroni and cheese, use vegetable pasta and add in spinach.
· Remove temptation. Limit the amount of calorie-laden foods in the house. Instead of buying chips, buy unsalted, unbuttered popcorn.
· Encourage kids to be physically active. Enroll them in tae kwon do or other sports, encourage them to ride their bikes outside in the summer, and get them up and active whenever possible.
· Enjoy walking as a family. During the winter, go to the Big Dipper and walk around the walking area as a family.
· Limit TV and computer time.
· Do not reward finishing a meal with desserts.
· Replace whole milk with skim milk at about 2 years of age, or at 1 if you are concerned about obesity.
· Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grain products.
· Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils and beans for protein.
· Serve reasonably sized portions. Use smaller plates to serve meals on.
· As a family, drink lots of water. Set the example of doing it yourself.
· Limit sugar-sweetened beverages to special occasions.
· Eat meals at the dinner table.
These are just a few ideas of things that you can do with your family. The most important thing that you can do to improve the overall fitness of your children is to be involved with them, and be a role model. If they see that you are serious about living a healthy lifestyle, they will be much more inclined to follow your suggestions and make those steps to living a healthy lifestyle themselves.
For more information about National Nutrition Month in March, go to: www.eatright.org/resources/national-nutrition-month.