In South Africa, we are raising a nation of unhealthy kids who are at extremely high risk of becoming very sick adults.
Did you know?
2 out of 10 South African children between the ages of 2 and 14 are overweight or obese. And, our teens consume 3 times more sugar than the recommended amount per week.
In fact, obesity has reached crisis level in our country and we now have the fastest growth rate in obesity among our children, especially pre-schoolers.
Does this information make you worry about how we are raising our kids to be unhealthy?
Actually, it’s even worse. Because when we allow our children to eat badly, we also blind them to the potential dangers they will face as adults. Overweight children have a high risk of getting diseases like type 2 diabetes (one of the country’s most common illnesses in modern times), heart problems, strokes, various cancers and high blood pressure when they are adults. Fortunately, it’s never too late to start encouraging good health habits in your home.
Teach your children good health habits
Teach your children about healthy foods, good nutrition and how to keep their bodies strong. Let them learn how to make the right food choices for themselves by learning from the choices that you make yourself.
Here are 5 areas where you can change and influence your children to care for their health:
1. The Lunchbox – Stop putting chips, chocolates and sugary cereal bars in your kids’ lunchboxes because you think it’s the only way they will eat something. You are doing them more harm than good. Actually, children will eat all the right kinds of foods if you sell it to them with a positive attitude – “healthy food is tasty and you can choose whatever you want just as long as it’s good for you”, are the types of things you should be saying to your kids. Pack the lunchbox with vibrant colours. Use the robot colours (red, orange and green) as a guide – as this is what we should be eating in terms of fruit and vegetables.
A good idea would is to cut up cucumber, carrots and tomatoes into easy munching sizes and provide a small tub of creamy avocado dip on the side. You could do this with so many vegetables. Or make mini fruit kebabs with various fruit pieces on toothpicks and provide a plain yoghurt with honey for them to dip the kebabs into. Replace chips with peanuts and raisins. Make your own cereal bars with honey instead of sugar – there are numerous “healthy seed bar” recipes online. Lastly, provide a choice of healthy foods in the lunchbox. Kids will eat what they are given if you provide them with variety.
2. The Tuckshop – You cannot control what the school tuckshop stocks but you can most certainly control how your children use it. Make rules around the tuckshop. For example:
- Give them money for tuckshop only once a week
- Give them no more than the required amount for a toasted sandwich or muffin
- Place the order at the tuckshop yourself if you don’t trust your child enough to order the right food
- Don’t make the tuckshop your go-to place for school lunches
- Make your children healthy, well-stocked lunchboxes and let them buy any small treat they want at second break or after school if they have an extra-mural – again, only give them the amount of money to cover a small treat.
3. The Sportsfield – Did you know? Less than half of our children play sports. This is a shocking statistic because it shows we are encouraging our kids to be inactive and eat badly, a lethal combination. Especially where the’screen’ rules and it’s already a challenge to get our kids off the couch and outside to play. Most schools offer extra-murals, so to maintain a balanced approach in your children’s lives ask them to choose at least one physical activity. If they show an interest in something that isn’t on the school’s extra-mural list then find out if there are private lessons at your local sports club. Fork out the cash to pay for those lessons as it is an excellent investment in your kids’ lives as well as their future health and wellbeing. Also, become more active as a family. Go cycling or walking on the weekends. Have fun with your children as you do physical activities together. Make the reward a family movie at home afterwards.
4. The Kitchen – By replacing bad foods with good foods in your kitchen cupboards and fridge, you will soon begin to change your children’s eating habits for the better. Remember, children love variety whether that comes from a healthy kitchen or an unhealthy one. It’s your responsibility as the parent to ensure a choice of healthy foods for your kids.
Did you know? Most South African children eat less than 1 fruit or veg a day when the recommended daily amount is 5! It’s quite shocking how many South Africans do not know this, yet it’s quite an easy eating habit to practice. A good salad already takes care of many vegetables and if you keep a large bowl filled with seasonal fruits, you will find that your kids will help themselves and enjoy it.
5. The Attitude – Eating a healthy diet and sticking to it comes mostly from your own attitude. Lead by example. Be positive about good health. Talk about the benefits. Make health and wellbeing a way of life in your home. Say things like:
- That banana is so good for you because it helps your bones grow big and strong.
- Wow, you made a real effort not to eat sweets this week. Well done!
- You are looking so fit and healthy. It must be all that exercise you are doing.
Don’t get into negative talk with your kids as they don’t respond well to it and it puts them under pressure to be healthy. Saying things like “stop eating sweets or they’ll be the death of you” or “get off the couch and stop being lazy” will become the start of rebellious behaviour towards good health. However, incorporating a healthy diet into your family’s lifestyle in a positive way means you will give them a healthy grounding for life.
Lastly, you should already know this begins with your own attitude towards healthy diets. Are you overweight? If so, what are you doing about it? Are you on a healthy diet plan to lose weight and get healthy? You can find out by booking a Free Consultation.
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