President Obama has proclaimed September, “National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month”. Most of us are aware that childhood obesity is a significant public health issue. As our children (and ourselves) become increasingly sedentary, and have and are exposed to an overwhelming amount of questionable food choices, it is not surprising that this is so.
Many of Vista Hill SmartCare’s Wellness activities and events are aimed at encouraging increased physical activity and educating children and parents on making healthy food choices: all summer we held Family “Fun in the Sun” and “Family Olympics”, we are collaborating with Neighborhood Health Center to provide a 6 session workshop on obesity prevention with parents and children, we assist with the annual 5th grade obesity screenings in the Julian, and Ramona and Valley Center/Pauma Valley School Districts (see our previous blog, “Raising Healthy Children”), and we will be hosting a Parent’s Nutrition Course provided by UC San Marcos this next month.
But, food is wonderful! Family meals should be treasured! So many of our holidays and traditions and celebrations are centered around the joys of food. And so, how to we, as providers, educators and parents, support and encourage the healthy joys of food, especially for our children, while also encouraging healthy food choices and healthy lifestyles?
First, although I am not a nutritionist, most experts agree that children, who are still growing and developing, should not restrict their food intake; they should not diet! They need a variety of healthy foods to support their continued growth and development. Overweight children’s health can be improved with making healthy food choices and increasing their physical activity. (If your child is clinically obese, of course, consult his/her physician for guidance).
This is where parents and families come in: any changes made should include the entire family. Children love to be included in food preparation. If you can grow some of your own, have your children participate. Include them in your shopping trips (learn to read food labels together), meal planning and preparation. Consider trips to your local Farmer’s Market, for local, seasonal choices. Great kid-friendly resources for healthy food choices include My Plate and Nourish Interactive. You may also want to introduce a Mindful Eating practice in your family.
And be a good example by increasing your daily physical activity. Play with your children! Learn a new game or sport, take a daily walk, check out Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move Campaign“!
Vista Hill SmartCare encourages a healthy, smart relationship with the food we choose, honoring the foods of our cultures and traditions, while making choices that are fresh, seasonal, balanced, and whole foods as much as possible. We want to also instill a sense of pride and self-worth in our children, teaching them to be comfortable in their bodies and to find activities that they enjoy with their friends and with their families.
Please contact us with any suggestions for related Wellness Activities and Events, or to RSVP for the free Parents Nutrition Course (760-788-9725).