The obesity epidemic described as a ‘ticking time bomb’ by the government is becoming a growing concern for both adults and children. As a nation, we have to understand the food we consume affects our health in many ways. Children are our future and we as adults must set a good example and help them lead the way. Research suggests that children who enjoy a varied balanced diet are likely to be full of energy, brighter with a higher concentration span and likely to suffer fewer colds and illnesses. Here are a few tips to help both you and your child enjoy a healthier slimmer lifestyle:
- Don’t put your child on a diet instead learn and talk about healthy eating and living.
- Teach by example if they see you eating a balanced diet and exercising chances are they will follow your lead.
- Aim for five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Vegetables should fill at least one-third of the plate and fruit should be eaten as snacks throughout the day (apples, satsumas, grapes & berries are great for kids). This will help satisfy hunger and provide key nutrients.
- To disguise veggies why not try making your own soup and get the kids involved it’s low in calories, filling and nutritious not to mention a great way to use up all the leftover veggies. Or try the ready made fresh versions usually found in the fridge sections of all supermarkets.
- The more food you put on the children’s plate, the more they eat. Check serving sizes and decrease high-calorie foods and increase lower calorie foods like fruit and vegetables.
- Conscious eating your brain needs to register that it is eating in order to avoid over eating. Try to encourage sitting at a table during meal times rather than in front of the telly or on the run.
- Swap sugary fizzy drinks for water, fruit juice diluted with water or fresh fruit smoothies (Innocent is a great one and they even do fun sized kid packs). Did you know that thirst can be mistaken for hunger so encourage your child to sip on water throughout the day? If water gets boring why not add a dash of fresh lemon or lime to zing things up a little.
- Instead of frying foods why not bake everything this also frees up some time as you just chuck things in the oven and relax or spend time with the kids rather than slaving over a frying pan. Did you know you can bake just about everything that you normally would fry? From chips (keep the skin on and turn them into wedges) to burgers and even samosas (crispy and tastes scrumptious) give it a try you have nothing to lose except fat.
- Opt for brown rather than white carbohydrates – whole grain bread, bran cereals, whole wheat pasta and whole grain rice. These are rich in fibre and provide sustained energy which means you will be hearing “Mum I’m hungry” less frequently. Switch gradually so they do not notice a drastic difference.
- Try fresh or stewed fruit and natural yoghurt for dessert or why not try a fruit crumble made with oats with a little custard for a yummy treat.
- Don’t ban naughty treats like chocolates rather offer fun-sized mini versions or look for alternatives. 9Bar found in all supermarkets tastes just like a chocolate bar and contains omega 3,6 & 9 from the nutty nutritious seeds give them a go. This bar is great if you or your child has an allergy or intolerance as they are Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Lactose, Yeast & Egg Free.
- A simple effective tip is to eat slowly and encourage your children to do the same. Taste and enjoy each mouthful and make it fun ask the kids to guess the colours, flavours and ingredients you might have used.
- Don’t exclude dairy completely to save calories instead try skimmed or low-fat versions of milk & cheese they contain just as much calcium.
- Start the day with breakfast this will help reduce overeating throughout the day. Try porridge the no added sugar Quaker oats come in sachets ready to eat in 2 minutes. Enjoy with some sugar free strawberry jam, fresh berries, a chopped banana, some nuts and seeds or even some raw cacao nibs (raw chocolate), a dusting of cocoa powder/cinnamon or a drizzle of natural raw honey the list is endless and is sure to get the kids brains in gear ready for a productive day ahead.
- Add protein rich foods to meals like baked beans (the reduce sugar & salt versions), lentils, eggs and chicken are filling and don’t cause a rapid rise in blood sugar which means they provide long lasting energy and keep hunger at bay. Protein Shakes are a good alternative when you’re leading a busy lifestyle.
- Lastly get them moving and exercise together throughout the week or invest in a Wii Fit to be enjoyed indoors for the cold months ahead.
By Bindu Patel BA (Hons), DipION, BANT, CNHC