In recent years, especially in Indian cities, lifestyle changes (particularly in rising middle class families) has contributed to a more sedentary daily lifestyle, which in the long run, has led to increased cases of obesity, diabetes, and other lifestyle-related problems. As a result of non-active and sedentary lifestyles, we also see an increasing number of obese or fat children around us. While there have been cases of fat children losing weight and becoming more active as they grow up, a majority of them are unable to make the transition and grow up to be obese adults.
As parents, how do we ensure that our children eat healthy and are physically active? While cutting down on television time and junk food can help, we need a more holistic approach to ensure that our children do not turn out to be couch potatoes:
Set an example: It is a known fact that our children look at parents as their role models. If you spend most of your free time at home watching television, your child is most likely to copy the habit. As a parent, if you are health conscious and regularly exercise, it is easier for your child to learn the benefits, and will encourage them to be the same, as they grow up.
Spending active time with your child: A passive lifestyle has coincided with the rise of nuclear families and work pressure. Children of working parents spend most time of their weekdays either in school or with housemaids. As parents are unable to spare time, children are only exposed to electronic gadgets, which eventually become an addiction. As a parent, we must learn to spend more active time with our kids. Opt for jobs and companies that allow a healthy "work-life" balance. Plan weekend activities for the family such as a trip to the zoo, a nature trail walk, a city tour, physical sport or active family games, or simply anything that you can do together as a family.
Healthy eating habits for the family: While we cannot completely eliminate junk food from our lifestyle, we can also model healthy food eating habits for our children. Ensure that you eat home-cooked meals with your child for most times during the week. Involve your child in cooking a meal or dish at home to make cooking a fun activity for your child. Limit eating at the restaurant to the weekends. Stock your kitchen with healthier alternative foods such as peanuts, yogurt, dry fruits, and whole grain breads. Avoid (or reduce) cooking fried food at home, as well as opt for restaurants that only serve healthy dishes.
You will find some useful videos on making healthy food recipes on this link http://bit.ly/Appystore_Healthyfoodrecipes Try making them at home.
Developing other interests: Children who are addicted to video games and television, do so as they have not developed interest in other activities. As a parent, you can assist in your child's all-round development by pursuing interests in books, gardening, yoga, cooking, and other alternatives. You can also use the Internet to explore and learn a new skill with your child. This will encourage your child to pursue alternative interests and prevent addiction.
An active life is the best antidote to preventing ill-health and high costs of medical intervention. This is true for all modern age adults, and is now equally applicable to our children. Healthy habits and fitness is the best gift that parents can give to children as they grow up to be happy and confident adults.