Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Obesity & Children - No More Excuses!

This is a topic that is on my mind a lot as record numbers of children are becoming classed as obese in both America and in the United Kingdom. How can this happen? Aren't parents supposed to be in control of what food is in their home and how much a child is allowed to eat? Aren't parents the ones who prepare their children's meals? As parents, don't we love our kids enough to feed them properly with good nutritious food? Because that's what is comes down to. If you love your child, you will make sure that most of what she eats is nutritious and healthy, full of all of the nutrients and vitamins that she needs and lacking in things like sugar.

I know that, for some, it is not as cut-and-dried as that. I do know that it can be more expensive to buy healthy, fresh food. I know that our kids plead with us on numerous occasions to buy them sugar-laden food, and I know that for some parents, the time it takes to prepare a meal from scratch is a luxury they don't often have.

But I also know that some things in life are more important than all of the excuses that we rely on to keep us from feeling bad for not doing something. The health of our children should be a huge priority in our lives. And that means feeding them healthy meals and limiting the junk food they are allowed to eat. So here are some tips to help us make sure that we do everything we can for our children's health and that we keep those excuses at bay.

Excuse #1 - Healthy, fresh food is too expensive.


- Grow your own fruit and vegetables. You don't even need a yard of your own in order to do this. Some properly sized planting pots and hanging baskets can be enough to help you grow fruit, vegetable and herbs of your own.

- Re-use left-overs to create numerous meals from the same ingredients.

- Buy generic brands. Sometimes they are just as good as the more expensive brand name products, and the nutrition, in many instances, is just as good.

- Buy in bulk. Certain fresh ingredients can be bought in bulk and frozen in order to use later, and buying in bulk often costs less per item bought.

Excuse 2 - My child likes junk food, and they beg and plead for it all of the time.


- Be a parent. Part of being a parent is telling your children "no" when it is in their best interests. You don't have to eliminate junk food from your child's diet, but you should definitely limit it.

- Don't use sweets as a "treat." You don't want your child to be associating sugar-laden, non-nutitrious food as a reward or a special occasion, and giving it to him as a treat or a reward will just enforce the idea in his mind that good times equal sugar (or fast food or whatever unhealthy food you are using).

- Make sure your child can have nutritious fresh food on hand to take the place of the junk food they are craving. Fresh fruit is naturally sweet and filling at the same time. I know very few children who will turn down something as sweet and delicious as strawberries, for example, and strawberries are GOOD for your child to eat.

Excuse #3 - I don't have time to prepare healthy meals or to cook from scratch.


- Batch cook ahead of time. Take one day, maybe Saturday or Sunday (or whatever day you have the most free time) and cook the whole week's meals and then freeze it all, ready to be microwaved or reheated in the oven when you need it.

- Chop and freeze your fresh vegetables needed for cooking ahead of time. For example, if you will be making a lot of dishes that required diced onions during the week, then chop and dice some onion ahead of time and freeze it in freezer bags in the serving sizes that you will need for the meals.

- Measure out and portion your ingredients ahead of time. For example, you can do this with grated cheese. To keep yourself from using more cheese than a recipe calls for, measure out the portions you need into individual bags and store it in the fridge (or freezer) ready to use.

- Use your crockpot (slow cooker). If you wake up early enough in the morning, you can prepare the entire meal and start it cooking before you even leave the house for work in the morning, and by evening, a hot, healthy meal will be ready for you and your children. (Also, by then, the house will smell delicous!)

These are just a few solutions. I hope they are helpful. I'll tackle ways to help your kids be more physically active in a later post.


  1. This is also something I often think about and a topic that needs addressing.

    We are in control of our children's welfare which includes teaching them what is a healthy 'diet' and lifestyle.

    Unless parents are responsible about their children's health then we will never control obesity.

  2. My eldest is over weight, not becasue I dont give healthy meals, btu igive too much, and also lack of exercise, but we are addressing this now,and she is loosing weight steadily and healthily.

  3. Knithappens - It's good that you are trying to do something about it.

    When I maried my husband, I already had three daughters from a previous marriage. He used to pile their plates high with food and expect them to eat it all! I had to take him aside and explain that, because they were so much smaller than us, they really didn't require as much food.

    As badly as I felt about myself when I was so overweight, it breaks my heart to think of kids dealing with body image issues and health problems due to their weight.

  4. Great's so true. Parents don't like to say no because it's hard. But it will be harder to watch them struggle with weight issues. I just wish more people were educated about what a serving size actually is, because the restaurants have altered people's perceptions on this!

  5. I think you just have to be an overweight child to never want that too happen to your child. I know that no amount of her crying for candy is worth her having diabetes or being teased by other children. n moderation, as with all things. She's have a snack right now with frozen bananas whipped up like ice cream and then sprinkles!

    Where there's a will!

    Great post.

  6. I completely agree, Rita! No amount of a child crying for sweets will EVER be worth her getting teased for her weight!

    My father is diabetic, and as much as I have worked to make sure I reduce my risks of getting diabetes, how, in good conscience, could I do less for my own children as well?

  7. Exactly, while we still have influence, before they realize we're entirely uncool and do the opposite of everything.

    Interestingly enough, my mom (mental health issues when I was young) feels a lot of guilt over not being healhty enough then to make better choices about what to bring into our house. Trying to learn from her mistakes.


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