Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Biggest Influence

Obesity in children is truly a growing epidemic. In a conversation I recently had with my children's pediatrician I was surprised to find out how both type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure are now affecting more kids than ever! The fact that either of these adult-onset issues affects kids at all is a big deal!

What can be done? For starters, we as parents are the best examples to our children. Children are always watching us and they mimic what we do.  If we eat it, it must be ok.  If we eat lots of the "bad" stuff and not so much of the "good" stuff well, they'll do that too.  Good nutrition starts in the home and, since we're the parents and have the money, its up to us to make good decisions in the grocery store.  Up to a certain age if we don't buy it then our kids won't be able to eat it.

Here's a shocker - many obese kids (and adults) are actually nutritionally starved.  Consuming too many processed foods and not enough REAL foods can leave the body so low in so many important vitamins and minerals.  As well, sugar (and its digestion) robs the body of vital nutrients.

Food should never become a power struggle between a parent and a child. Serve your child good, healthy choices and don't make a big deal about what is eaten and what isn't. Many parents overestimate their children's needs and the amount of food required (which we do for ourselves as well).  Its best to create simple meals and serve smaller portions more frequently throughout the day - especially for younger children.  A child's caloric needs and many of the basic nutrients will vary from ages two through ten and a child knows when they are hungry and full.  The more we can support our children in avoiding empty calories (processed foods, sugary drinks, fast food, etc.) the better chance they will have of optimum growth and health and therefore help to avoid obesity.  Like adults, boredom and eating for emotional reasons can happen. Any emotion can be a trigger for over eating and as parents it is our job to teach our children productive tools that can help them with the tirade of emotions they may face.

Many children like to help and be part of their nutrition and we can nurture this by creatively inspiring their food choices and by teaching them about the benefits of food and having them help us cook.  Avoid battles and hassles over food and avoid rewards and bribes of dessert and sweets for eating their vegetables.  Food can have such an emotional stronghold on us and this can carry over from childhood to adulthood.

Of course, there's much more to the story than this and much more that can be done.  Childhood obesity is rampant in our society and there are so many facets that contribute to this. But for now, love and enjoy your children just the way they are - be their example of how to eat healthy and then get out and incorporate this thing called exercise in a fun way!

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Brand New, Shiny Year!

Well, here it is 2013 and it started off with a bang for me.  Or, maybe not so much as I was in bed by 9 o'clock on New Year's Eve with the flu.  Yes, I'm one of those people who do not get the flu shot but instead, try to allow my body to be able to defend for itself.  Sometimes, however, whether due to holiday travel (think total confinement for 3 hours in an airplane breathing in the air that probably, no definitely, contains various germs that make themselves known through everyone's coughs and sneezes), or partaking in some holiday indulgences, the body's defenses are just not up-to-par.  So, I got the flu.  I am happy to say that after six days I am almost back to normal.  The tiredness and cough are still lingering but those only serve to remind me to take it easy and REST.

There was a time when I made a conscious effort to make a New Year's resolution only to have forgotten it somewhere between Valentine's Day and the end of February.  This year I really don't feel that there is one resolution that I would choose and if I could choose only one, I think that would be difficult.  As human beings we are constantly growing and changing and learning.   Through out my life I have always been very, very hard on myself in my quest for something unreachable - perfectionism.  I am learning, finally at this age, to be happy with who I am and how God made me. And so, if I were to make any sort of resolution it would be more of a change of my mindset from the unattainable to acceptance.  To accept my limits and boundaries and to be at peace with who I am.  An example of this is with sports - growing up I disliked being on sport teams; however, I loved to run.  And so I joined the cross country running team and LOVED it.  Time passes by and running was placed on the back burner until a couple of years ago when I decided to take it up again.  Well, I thank God for my chiropractor and a wonderful and very gifted massage therapist who have treated my many aches and pains and have gently pushed me in the direction of gentler exercises.

My body is not meant for hardcore exercising.  As much as I would love to run miles each day, take up boxing, boot camps, or participate in triathlons, I am not meant for these.  Instead, I have chosen to listen to my body by being a student of yoga, walking my dog, dancing for fun, hiking with my family, and anything else that get's me outside and enjoying this big, glorious world.  What do you like to do?  Making an effort to do some sort of daily exercise can make such an improvement in your life.  If its been awhile, start off with a 10 minute daily walk.  If you're time-constrained, start off with a 10 minute daily walk.  Get it?  It doesn't take much to start and that 10 minutes will eventually turn to 15, then 20, then 30 then.... Well, you get the picture.  Happy 2013!!