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The Joys of Food & Children

While childhood obesity is a significant public health issue, we advocate celebrating the joys of food traditions and our children in healthful ways.

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).

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

greg Chick September 21, 2012 at 04:47 PM
If you start out with Pres. Obama, arent you supposed to complain about his this or that? and say "Save the children" and be bitter and nasty? Wow you instead go straight into the Joys of children and toys! I hope readers can stay stimulated with such a nice topic. I for one thank you for your subject matter and will stop my sarcasm and say that real leaders like you might just be what children actually need. OK throw in some toys too, but no kill anything that moves video games. As for food, I have known for many decades that good diet is important, but now that I'm 57, I wish I was more attentive to this. Realization is next step, then actually doing the best thing. I am really looking forward to planting my own veggies and the feeling that I grew this when we eat them. And as for toys, I fear I need to learn how to play with them again. Till then, let's hope for a better Congress and as leaders they learn to play fair and help US grow our own fresh fruits and Vegetables. Oh, and less toys from China. Greg,
Pamela Sachs September 21, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Thank you, Mr. Greg Chick! You make those of us at Ramona SmartCare smile!
greg Chick September 21, 2012 at 10:14 PM
I try to entertain when I can. Shed light or at least not ad fuel to a fire....I hope the reason there are not more comments on this is because you did not put "Crime fighting mother stabbing/father raping " headlines. (taken from Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant ) You know the "group W bench" this sort of stuff gets people reading and making a comment. I hope someday people will be stimulated by "The Joys of food and toys"...... I am, but I tend to be a bit weird. If you have not listened to Alice's Restaurant try it, the movie is ok too, but the song will make you smile. I actually memorized the song back in 70' or when ever it came out.
David Baker September 22, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Hi, Just adding my support for healthy foods grown in your garden. Ramona is blessed with soil and climate conducive to having a year round garden. My tomato plants, swiss chard, onions, collards, kale survive all year. I'm looking forward to cooler weather of spring (Nov-May) during which peas and salad greens seem to flourish... Anyone in Ramona, with a five gallon bucket or a yard can grow food!

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