What we eat has an enormous impact on how we look and feel at any age. The number of overweight children in the United States has grown to 22 million, or 1 in every 3. Being overweight as a child can lead to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. According to the 2011 National Diabetes fact sheet, type 1 diabetes in young children and teens increased by 23% and type 2 diabetes was up by 21%.
Keeping children at a healthy weight takes a whole family approach. Make healthy eating a family affair by getting children involved in planning and preparing healthy meals and teaching them how to read food labels so they can start making their own good food choices.
Here are some tips for grocery shopping with children:
- Choose fresh fruits and dark green veggies rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Choose whole-grain breads, cereals, crackers and pasta that is high in fiber, vitamins and minerals.
- Choose low-fat dairy or non-dairy substitutes that are high in calcium.
- Choose high protein foods, including eggs, fresh meat, poultry, fish, beans and nut butters.
- Choose foods that lower in sodium. (children can get high blood pressure too)
- Choose good fats, including olive oil and canola oil and spreads.
- Limit foods and beverages with added sugars. (soda, sugar sweetened drinks and candy as all supply calories with no essential nutrients)
And don’t for get physical activity! Be physically active with your children every day by taking family walks, playing sports or riding bikes together.
Making healthy dietary choices and excising as a family creates a healthy lifestyle model that will last from childhood through adulthood.