Monday, June 13, 2011

Kids and Obesity...

When should we start teaching our children about calories and exercising?

Do we wait until they are already overweight?

Do we wait until they go to school and eat school lunches?

Should we start at home when they are too young to really understand what a calorie is?

These have been weighing on my mind lately.

My Momma and Dad never worried about being overweight.  Neither of them were overweight when we were growing up.  They ate what they wanted and so did me and my brother.  I started packing on the pounds during adolescence and remember Momma trying to help us lose weight by putting everyone on the Hilton Head Diet when I was 14.  When I was 16, I suffered from gallstones and had my gall bladder removed.  It was sort of downhill from there.  Momma and I would do Jazzercise at the local park and we loved it.  She tried to keep me active, but it wasn't enough.  I briefly recall learning about calories in the 9th grade.  I think it was a one day assignment and even then I didn't really understand them.

Now I understand the importance of calorie counting and exercising.  

Sissy has started "counting calories" too.  But in her innocent 5 year old way.  She can't read and doesn't understand numbers.  I've been encouraging my children to eat more fruit and vegetables.  It's really easy.  We just don't buy junk.  I rarely buy chocolate and ice cream.  Their treats consists of yogurt, popsicles and fruit snacks.  I don't keep track of their calories.  They eat what I eat and most every day, they eat way more!  I try to keep them active by going to the park and having them run in circles through our living room and kitchen.  They think it's fun.  I'm not going to tell them any different.  Sissy likes to work out with Jillian but usually quits about 5 minutes in and watches me.  More like, critiques me and lets me know what I'm doing wrong!

My kids watch PBS every day.  Even Curious George encourages good eating you want the sugary sweet or do you want the blueberries?  George goes for the blueberries.  Kids follow suit.  They ask for the blueberries because that's what George eats.

I want to make sure my kids have all the knowledge to avoid battling weight issues.  I think they will be better for it.  Do I worry they might develop an eating disorder?  It has crossed my mind.  That's why I'm blogging about it.  But I also worry about obesity.  And that's just as deadly as the opposite, right?  Knowing how to eat proper nutrition is invaluable.  I hope my kids will be alright.

I know this is a touchy matter and may be on your hearts as well.  I welcome your comments.



Kandace said...

You could try going the nutritional wrought. Teach them about serving sizes, then look up what they should be eating at their age (how much fruit,veg protein,carbs,and dairy) Then have then make a fun chart showing serving sizes at the top and have columns for food and after they eat something on the chart have them check it off. It could be fun.

EmptyNester said...

I raised the lovelies the same way my mother raised us- on well-balanced meals and healthy snacks of fruits and veggies---they did have some snacks like chips but, for the most part, they preferred fruits or veggies. They also loved yogurt. The lovelies were outside playing all the time, very little time was spent watching television. None of them suffers from obesity.

My problems with being overweight didn't start until my forties---when life got the best of me and I used food to provide me with comfort- to calm my anger, soothe my fears, dry my tears, etc. It's been quite the battle and I'm still fighting.

I think what you're doing sounds great. It sounds like you're teaching your children not to obsess about weight but how to make healthy choices and live a healthy lifestyle!

Susie said...

I like the idea of "always foods", "sometime foods" and "rare foods". I think kids receive that message much better:-)

Teaching-Mommy said...

I teach my kids to eat healthy meals and to listen to their bodies to tell them when they are full. That is a huge issue I see with other kids, is they just eat to eat.

I also go to the gym every day and when I am there the kids go to the play place and they run around that whole hour, PLUS all the additional playing they do at home. I only allow my kids about an hour of tv a day (if that)....

My oldest is 7 and is just now asking about calories, I tell her not to worry about them, just eat good foods, listen to her body, and she will be fine.

Jenna @ Newlyweds said...

I've encouraged healthy eating from the very start, with tons of veggies and fruits. We also garden and the boys love eating veggies straight from the garden that Daddy grew (mommy never gets any credit). I think kids knowing where there food comes from helps lots. The boys are also very active and get treats occasionally, not everyday. I do see more and more overweight young children 4 and under. It's hard to know they won't be struggling with their weight the rest of their lives.

Carrie said...

I definitely think it's important that we teach our kids about food. When my kids go to the grocery store with their Nannie, they are her label readers.
"Nannie, that has high fructose corn syrup/MSG/trans fats in it!!!"

I would be concerned if any of my kids, especially the girls, started thinking they needed to lose weight... but learning about good nutrition is part of our job as parents, especially today as food quality continues to decline and the marketing powers get even better about lying to us on food packages. :-(

I also like to show my kids the connection between food and feelings. For instance if they overindulge and have a tummyache or feel sad, I point out that there is a connection. The gut is a "second brain".

Mommarock said...

I think that counting calories at a very young age can also lead to unhealthy eating habits such as bulemia, and anorexia.. it is much better to discuss what are healthy eating habits and why. What is a healthy choice vs. what is an unhealthy choice, or, what is a better choice. Heart healthy. Why exercise is important, and to demonstrate the skills in front of them. I can't tell my kids to eat green beans.. because I don't eat them.. their daddy does tell them to eat greens.. he eats LOTS of them.

Sarah said...

Kids learn by example. We eat well, they eat well. We exercise, they exercise. We have occational treats, they do too. Present good options. I don't want to pass on my food hangups to my girls so we don't talk a lot about it, they just take my lead. It's a good motivator :)

Lizzie said...

Sorry I'm late in reading this--it's such an important topic to me! I was always an average sized kid but had a mother who was rail-thin and I always felt fat in comparison. (And she clearly wanted a thin daughter.)

My own daughter (she's 7) is a great eater--loves pretty much everything but squash. She gets one "treat" every day...often ice cream and always in the 100 calorie range. She's right at the 50th percentile for her age and height and very active, very strong. (She does gymnastics and ballet and rides horses--and her school has PE four days a week plus a huge playground.)

When I see what some people list as their dinners, I wonder if they have kids and how that works. Do they have entirely different meals? Tonight our family dinner was roasted chicken, salad and pasta and I just didn't have the pasta. I'm presenting myself not as "on a diet" but as "trying to become strong and healthy." I really, really hope I can raise my daughter to have a healthy attitude about food and her body.


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