5 tips to keep your child at a healthy weight
This week is National Childhood Obesity Week. To understand more about what to do to prevent unhealthy weight gain in children, we’ve spoken to nutrition expert, Charlotte Stirling-Reed.
Day to day we hear the news that childhood obesity is reaching epidemic levels and that a reduction in obesity levels are essential. However, rarely do we receive the useful news of how we can work to stop our own children from becoming overweight. Below we list some of our top ways of ensuring your baby has the best chance of avoiding obesity in later life.
Introduce “Healthy Eating Practices” early on
It is never too early to introduce your child to healthy eating practices so right from the start of weaning ensure you encourage your little one to eat well, appreciate real food and enjoy mealtimes.
Home cook/prepare foods
Whenever possible allow your child to get used to home cooked and fresh produce. Avoid offering jars or pre-prepared foods which often taste nothing like the food listed on their label and can result in your children refusing “family foods” later on.
Practice role modelling
Try to lead by example as much as possible for your children as ultimately, your children will learn how and what to eat through you and the rest of the family. If you as parents refuse to eat vegetables and fruit you can’t expect your little ones to grow up loving the good stuff.
The more foods you offer to your child from a young age, the better. Research has shown that exposure to many foods whilst children are young often results in children liking a wider variety of foods as they get older. Remember, if your little one turns their nose up at broccoli, it doesn’t mean that they won’t ever accept it – persistence is key. Sometimes it takes up to 20 times for children to accept certain foods so just don’t give up!
Delay the introduction of sugary and salty foods
The later you can leave it before introducing foods that are high in fat and sugar, the better. Preferences for certain foods are developed early on in childhood so offering these foods from a young age may mean that they start to refuse other foods and may consider healthy foods as ‘plain’ in comparison. Salt and sugar have both been linked with an array of negative health consequences and so delaying their introduction can be extremely beneficial.
Early practices really do count so start early on, make eating enjoyable and ensure that the whole family is eating well. For more information on childhood obesity please see SR Nutrition.
Photography: Nvainio @Flickr