“By modeling healthy living for a youngster, adults not only improve their own personal wellness, but help set the stage for the whole family’s lifestyle habits,” states Mary Kay Sawyer-Morse, PhD, RD, a professional speaker, author and co-owner of a Texas-based company that provides nutrition and health in-services and seminars to diverse industries.
This is sage advice for any parent concerned about their young one’s diet or exercise habits. Nutritionally speaking, there are so many concerns for children today: Obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrient intakes, eating disorders and an increase in the risk of early disease onset are just some of them. In spite of the health profession’s attempt to offer advice and conduct scientifically significant research which helps justify a healthy lifestyle, the impact these efforts have on a child are only as good as the adults who listen to and apply the information.
All issues in relation to children fall in the hands of adult caregivers. If a five-year-old child is overweight, that child is helpless unless his or her parent or guardian takes control. The adult can set limits to food and beverage intake and provides outlets for physical activity, all the while assuring a positive self-esteem. This is no easy task. On the other hand, a “picky eater” who gets to demand exactly what he or she wants to eat for lunch or dinner everyday will unlikely broaden his or her “food horizons” as long as he knows mom or dad is going to give in and provide that special food.
Parents should consider these tips when modifying their child’s food consumption:
When it comes to a child’s nutrition intake and problems associated with it, parenting has a lot to do with it. Just as with any restriction a parent may set for a child (limiting television or computer time, setting curfews, limiting the types of movies a child may watch, setting a bedtime for a child), limits or rules need to be set for how a young child is to deal with food. Children learn best by modeling so it’s important to live the habits and lifestyle you want your child to practice.
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