Childhood's the best time to instill healthy habits

Childhood's the best time to instill healthy habits

Childhood's the best time to instill healthy habits

Understanding that weight isn't something most parents want to discuss with kids, a Christian pediatrician has some tips on how parents can help their children ward off obesity.

For one thing, Dr. Rosemary Fernandez Stein of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA) recommends that children eat breakfast at home as opposed to at school. She calls it a "much better" option.

"[With] unsupervised breakfast, you don't really know what they're doing," she points out. "Most kids aren't eating at all, which is dropping their blood sugar, making them not feel well, and leaving them open to overeating."

For later in the day, packing a lunch is also a great approach.

"Then you're talking about what you're packing up. You're saying how these things are healthy," Dr. Stein poses. "They're seeing Mom and Dad's hands prepare the food, and [kids are] taking and opening up their lunchbox, and they're remembering home."

And they are most likely eating things that are healthier.

Another tip that she employs at her own house with her own children is using the same small container for snacks.

Stein, Dr. Rosemary (CMDA) Stein

"If the food fits into a small bowl, they're not going to be able to overeat for the most part," notes Stein. "When you're done with the bowl, you're done with your snack. Find something else to do, whether it's doing your homework, helping with chores, etc."

She adds that potato chips and some other junk foods are okay in moderation.

"You can have a dessert with your dinner, but there's no after-dinner snack," she continues. "Don't come back and have a bowl of cereal afterwards. That's just going to add to your calories, and they're going to be empty calories."

The American Academy of Pediatrics earlier this month issued a new guidance that recommends drugs and surgery as the first defense against child obesity. But as AFN recently reported, Dr. Stein believes that should be the last resort.

"Obesity is a problem that's going to affect the child through their adulthood, unless we identify that as a problem and also give the child and the family tools to be able to help them with that problem," she submits.

Dr. Stein says obesity starts as a mild problem, but it often cascades into far-reaching issues like diabetes, hypertension, and depression. So childhood is the best time to have an impact on those lifelong habits.