Healthy eating and physical activity habits are key to your child’s well-being. Eating too much and exercising too little may lead to overweight and related health problems that may follow children into their adult years.
Involve the whole family in building healthy eating and physical activity habits. This benefits everyone and does not single out the child who is overweight.
Tell your child that he or she is loved, special, and important. Children’s feelings about themselves are often based on how they think their parents feel about them.
Buy and serve more fruits and vegetables (fresh, frozen, canned, or dried). Let your child choose them at the store.
Buy fewer soft drinks and high-fat or high-calorie snack foods like chips, cookies, and candy. These snacks may be OK once in a while, but always keep healthy snack foods on hand. Offer the healthy snacks more often at snack times.
Make sure your child eats breakfast every day. Breakfast may provide your child with the energy he or she needs to listen and learn in school. Skipping breakfast can leave your child hungry, tired, and looking for less healthy foods later in the day.
Plan healthy meals and eat together as a family. Eating together at meal times helps children learn to enjoy a variety of foods.
Start with small servings and let your child ask for more if he or she is still hungry. It is up to you to provide your child with healthy meals and snacks, but your child should be allowed to choose how much food he or she will eat.
Be aware that some high-fat or high-sugar foods and beverages may be strongly marketed to kids. Usually these products are associated with cartoon characters, offer free toys, and come in bright packages. Talk with your child about the importance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other healthy foods—even if these foods are not often advertised on TV or in stores.
Set a good example. If your child sees that you are physically active and that you have fun doing it, he or she is more likely to be active throughout life.
Encourage your child to join a sports team or class, such as soccer, dance, basketball, or gymnastics at school or at your local community or recreation center.
Be active together as a family. Assign active chores such as making the beds, washing the car, or vacuuming. Plan active outings such as a trip to the zoo, a family bike ride, or a walk through a local park.