It’s one thing to think about the national epidemic of obesity, but as a parent, what can you do about it? The two main ways to encourage and maintain a healthy weight and prevent overweight are to make smart food choices and to be physically active. That’s what this We Can! handbook is all about-giving you lots of ideas that can help you and your family take action for a healthy weight. Why Parents? Because as parents, you make a big difference in what children think and do. Your children look up to you as role models. If yo
Why families? As a family, We Can! be more successful in adopting healthy choices and making changes. It’s hard to make changes on your own. Creating family habits around smart eating and physical activity can make it easier for everyone to maintain a healthy weight. For example,
- Planning regular family time that involves physical activity means that everyone is unsupported and encouraged to be active.
- Putting a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter and making a family agreement not to have chips or other high-calorie snacks in the house can change everyone’s snacking habits.
Strategies for Real Life. If you’re interested in jump-starting your family on a healthy lifestyle by making some nutrition and physical activity changes, here are a few strategies to get you started:
- Recognize that you have more control than you might think. You can turn off the TV and the video game. You can choose to get off the bus one stop earlier than usual and walk the rest of the way, especially when you are with your kids. You can give your family more vegetables for dinner.
- Think about the immediate benefits. If reducing future heart disease risk seems a bit abstract, focus on the good things that can happen right now. You won’t feel so full if you have smaller portion or skip dessert. Going hiking with your teenager might lead to a wonderful talk that neither of you anticipated. A fruit salad tastes great and looks beautiful. Dancing with your spouse is lots of fun and can give you a great workout.
- Make small, easy changes over time. Suggesting that family member take a run together every day will probably get you lots of eye rolling and “no-thank-you’s.” It’s easier and more appealing to start out with some new approaches to nutrition and physical activity that the whole family is really willing to try. For example, take a walk after dinner a couple of nights a week instead of turning on the TV. And, instead of chocolate cake with frosting, enjoy sliced strawberries over angel food cake.
- Try a variety of strategies. No one will notice if you use part-skim m
ozzarella cheese instead of whole-milk mozzarella in your lasagna, but you’ll be reducing the calories and fat fro everyone who eats it. Combine “invisible” strategies like this with strategies that actively involve other family members: See if everyone will commit to eating healthy dinners together at least four times a week. Get your children involved in the process of shopping for and preparing these healthy dinners. Make a plan with your child to walk to school together or to walk after dinner 2 days a week.