According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 17 percent of all children between the ages of two and 19, have issues with or deal with childhood obesity. This negatively impacts the health and well-being of approximately 12.7 million children and adolescents in the United States.
According to Beverly Anderson, executive director for Ebenezer Child Care Centers with locations on Milwaukee’s southside, and in downtown Milwaukee, Oak Creek and West Allis/Wauwatosa, “Instilling healthy eating and exercise habits from an early age is important to setting the stage for a healthy life.”
Anderson offers these easy tips to consider:
Anderson says there are a number of things to remember when it comes to developing healthy eating habits in children.
First, parents must understand that they serve as role models for their children’s eating habits. “If you eat unhealthy, your children will think it is okay to eat unhealthy, too.”
Anderson recommends that you go grocery shopping as a family and primarily shop the outer perimeter of the store or visit a farmer’s market where you can purchase fresh produce and meat. She adds that you should minimize the amount of processed foods you buy and, when you do purchase items like cereal and bread, you read product labels together and select items that are high in fiber and low in processed sugars.
“Talk with your children about the importance of eating healthy foods and why your body runs better when it is getting the proper amounts of fruits, vegetables, fiber, and protein each day.”
Anderson also says gardening and cooking together are fantastic opportunities for children to learn about healthy eating habits. “By working together to raise plants, harvest them, and prepare them in a healthy manner, your children will learn how fruits and vegetables grow and why they taste so good. Parents also need to realize the importance of eating a healthy dinner together each night. It goes back to serving as role models for your children.”
Finally, Anderson encourages parents to not make rewards tied to unhealthy foods, and that dessert should be a treat every now and then, not something you eat every night. She also says when parents serve snacks, they should be healthy options such as nuts, fruits and vegetables.
Summer is the perfect time to reinforce to your children that getting outside and moving is fun. Activities such as walking, biking and swimming are all things your family can easily do together in the summer.
Anderson says, “Make it a point to get outside for at least 30 minutes every day in summer with your children. Visit a park, play catch, explore some hiking trails, or go geocaching. Spend some quality time together and show your children how much fun it is to be active.”
In the fall and winter months when going outside can be a little more daunting, check with your local recreation department for children’s activity classes or the Pettit Center or area gyms. “The key is to make exercising fun, so your children see it as something they want to do.”
Every Ebenezer Child Care Center focuses on all aspects of a child’s development: cognitive, physical, emotional, and social. In addition to providing quality care, the agency also offers other educational programming all aimed at helping parents.
The agency has locations on Milwaukee’s southside, and in downtown Milwaukee, Oak Creek and West Allis/Wauwatosa. The agency’s main office is located at 1496 South 29th Street, Milwaukee. For more information, please call 414-643-5070.