“nearly 1 in 4 U.S. teens is on the fast track to diabetes, ifÂ they don’t have the disease already.”
Some additional sobering statistics shared in the TIME article:
- In less than a decade, the proportion of kids ages 12 to 19 with diabetes or prediabetes has jumped from 9% in 1999-2000 to 23% in 2007-2008.
- While heart attacks and strokes typically donâ€™t occur until adulthood, CDC researchers found that in many cases, the 3,400 teens studied had an alarming number of cardiovascular risk factors. Most unnerving was the conclusion that 37% of normal-weight teens had at least one risk factor.
- Among those adolescents who were overweight or obese, 26% also had prehypertension or hypertension, as well as borderline or high LDL.
So what are we to do to help our children avoid being a part of the above statistics? Quite frankly, take our heads out of the sand and stop being lazy parents. Keep our cars out of the drive-thru and the processed frozen food section (except for veggies!) and start educating our children from a young age as to what healthy eating and living looks like.
WE Are Their Examples
We are the people who guide and shape their future. If they are obese and pre-diabetic, it is on us and it is up to us to turn that boat around.
There is no excuse for not feeding your children well. You can feed them a bag of frozen green beans just as easily as you can feed them a bag of chips. It is a choice to purchase certain foods. Plain and simple.
You are determining their long term health when you do not teach them how to take care of themselves. Below are some tips to get you rolling in the right direction.
Keep the Junk Out
If it isn’t in the house, they won’t eat it and neither will you. I love a bag of potato of chips just as much as everyone else. Stock my pantry with Salt and Vinegar bags and all bets are off – which is why I only buy them for specialÂ occasionsÂ like a backyard barbecue with friends. That way I get to have them, but I’m not eating them as a regular staple to my diet.
Resist the urge to pick up Doritos and coke and all the other high fat, sodium and sugar items. It takes some getting used to, but once you keep it off your shopping list and replace those items with healthier goods, your body will thank you AND you’ll have room in your budget for fresher, healthier foods.
Make Eating Out a Treat, Not the Norm
Heading to the localÂ restaurantÂ means super-size portions and super-sized caloric intake. We all know we overeat when we eat out, so do it as a treat, not a regular part of your week.
Your budget and your waistline will thank you. If you do eat out, don’t order the chips and salsa, drink water not coke and split a main dish so you cut the fat in half.
You still get to enjoy the indulgence of eating out without the negative dietary implications – it’s your compromise for a longer, healthier life.
Don’t Adopt the “Clean Your Plate” Mantra
Adopt a “let’s take it home and have it for lunch tomorrow” mantra or a “let’s heat that up for another meal” mantra. If you’re having food battles with your child, this may not be your thing, but consider the portion size before you require that your child clean their plate. If they’ve eaten a meat portion that’s the size of their palm of their hand and a vegetable portion two times their meat portion, they’re good.
Another thing to consider, skipping a meal isn’t going to kill them and reheating their dinner for breakfast isn’t torture. Just a thought. The point is, don’t breed overeating as a part of your regular discipline strategy.
Model and Administer Portion Control
Model portion control as well as showing children how to estimate what a proper portion size is. Teach them to take their time with their food so they can come to the realization that they are full and not overeat.
This will help them learn what their body needs in the way of nourishment so they get to a point to where they are consuming just enough calories for their overall health versus what is predetermined and given to them.
Bring in the Fruits and Vegetables
Make sure there is a fruit and vegetable with every meal. A quick way to get this in is to pick up the frozen, steam fresh microwaveable packages of green beans, broccoli and peas. The dark green vegetables are the ones that pack the biggest nutritional punch and they take less time to cook up than a tray of tater tots in the oven.
Pick up fresh fruit and cut it up the day you bring it home to save time and ensure less waste in the long run. Commit to portioning it out into snack size baggies or containers so they are ready to go for the days ahead. That way when it comes to snack time, they just have to grab and go. No need for a bag of chips or some other nutritionally void item, fresh fruit is available!
Communicate Openly but Carefully about Food
When your child comes home from school asking for chips or candy as a snack continuously, it’s important to explain to them why you are saying no. Kids don’t come with a knowledge base as to why chocolate doesn’t work as a snack versus an apple. They just know that chocolate tastes better and sweeter!
Be open, but choose carefully when talking to your kids about food. Never say something like, “Chocolate will make you fat” – that can bring in additional element that you never want to introduce. Simply state that chocolate is fantastic, but it’s not healthy. It doesn’t provide your body with what it needs – like energy – so you have to balance out the sweet treats with the healthy treats so your body can have the energy it needs to play and function as it needs to.
That is far better than associating unhealthy things like chocolate and chips with “being fat”. Be mindful when communicating with your kids about diet and food – they come with little to no history; you are their foundation, so tread carefully.
This is the most important element outside of making sure your kids balance out their food options – get them out to play, engage them in extracurriculars that have them running and working out their bodies on a regular basis – soccer, gymnastics, lacrosse and swimming are all great activities to work the entire body. Limit your child’s sedentary time and really make a commitment to being active – their future depends on this commitment.
Living a healthy life doesn’t have to take a lot of time – it simply requires a different train of thought and a commitment to keeping your kids healthy for the long term so they can live their best life.
You are their foundation for everything – set a good example, require more healthy food choices than the sweet treats and communicate responsibly with your kids. It is your responsibility to turn this statistic into a thing of the past.