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Raising Healthy Children
Date April 21, 2011
Author creative

Raising Healthy Children

Christine and Olivia

Parents. . .Eat Your Words!

Are you pleased with your progress toward healthful nutrition and fitness habits, but frustrated with that of your children?
Do you suspect that the lunches you send to school are traded or thrown away? Do you shudder at the sight of your pantry shelves displaying high-fat snacks and sugary cereals that you vowed you would never buy? Can you really win the battle against advertising, peer pressure and kids’ love affairs with sugar and fat?

The Bad News and the Good News

Kids today are fatter and less fit than previous generations. The rates of childhood obesity began to level off around 2006, but are still high at around 16%. And research shows that overweight children are more likely to become overweight or obese adults. Being overweight as a child even puts youngsters at risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes at a young age.

Food companies spend millions of dollars on television advertising to convince children that high-fat, high-sugar, processed foods are worth eating. Food is consumed because it’s cool, fun or comes with a free toy, rather than for its impact on health or even for its taste.

So what’s a parent to do? Eat your words! The fact is that parents who have adopted a lifestyle that includes healthful foods and regular exercise are living role models for their children.

We know that the behaviors children see most often at home are the ones they will be most likely to adopt for themselves, and parents’ efforts to promote healthy food habits do make a difference. Eat at least one meal together as a family each day, so that your children can regularly observe healthy eating habits.

Stack the Deck

It is a good idea to stock the kitchen with a majority of healthy items, keeping in mind that kids want some of their favorite foods, which may be sweet and/or salty. Save these foods for once-in-a-while treats, and make their regular snacks healthier.

Buy pretzels, which are low in fat, instead of greasy chips. Keep cut-up vegetables and ready-to-eat mini-carrots in the refrigerator. Sprinkle air-popped popcorn with grated parmesan cheese instead of butter. Check out for a list of more healthy snacks for kids.

A good way to get kids involved and committed to healthy eating habits is to involve them with the food shopping and preparation. There are lots of children’s cookbooks on the market; select one that emphasizes ways to modify your kids’ favorite foods rather than eliminate them. Children who feel competent to select and prepare food will make more intelligent food choices. has some great educational tools for teaching children about balanced nutrition and physical activity.

Balance Is Everything

The key to keeping kids happy and healthy is to strike a balance between foods that are good for them and those that just taste good, and between leisure or TV time and physical activity.

This brings us to the other side of the healthy living equation. The most obvious impact of inactivity on kids is the strong association between the number of hours spent watching TV or playing computer games and the level of obesity among youngsters.

Children should engage in 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week. Encourage kids to get outside and play tag, jump rope or get involved in sports.

Make physical activity a family affair. Go for a bike ride together, play catch or walk the dog. This will motivate you to get some exercise in, while simultaneously setting a great example for your kids—and creating lifelong memories. It’s a win-win-win situation!

Christine Ekeroth has been a health and fitness writer for more than 20 years. She is currently the editor of ACE Certified News, a publication of the American Council on Exercise. For more health and fitness information, visit

Additional Resources
American Council on Exercise:
American Dietetic Association:
MyPyramid Food Guidance System:

Used with permission from the American Council on Exercise

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5 Responses to Raising Healthy Children

  1. Krissyp says:

    Great post. So happy “striking a balance” was emphasized along with healthier options and a focus on physical activity.” Setting an example is a great point. I cook with my niece and nephew (simple things like soup where they can help cut the vegetables) and they really enjoy it, and sometimes try new foods. I also take them to the market with me and allow them to help me pick out their favorite fruits. Getting them involved in making good choices is key. Thanks for sharing.

  2. irena says:

    Very nice post, great info:)

  3. Thank you for this post! My son is only 3 but he is a very healthy eater, and a healthy child. But unfortunately that has been a struggle for us over the last 3 years as his Dr. kept pushing me to feed him junk food to fatten him up. My son is skinny, I will give you that, but he was born small, is actually incredibly tall for his age, is very active and is following almost exactly in his fathers footsteps when it comes to growth. But I find it sad that there are so many obese children, yet at least some Dr.’s think it’s healthier to feed your kids junk so they have fat on them. If his practice hadn’t gone under last year I would probably have emailed this article to him. haha!

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