Childhood obesity is something that flies under the radar here in Nigeria. It’s there but nobody’s really talking about it. You know when you see those kids running around the mall with their belly hanging over their jeans like a baby whale? I know this look because I have over-weight nephews and nieces and while I do admit that genetics has a huge role to play in being overweight I also appreciate the fact that tiny changes here and there can have a huge effect on a child’s weight. So here are a few ways that I use to encourage healthy living in my children.
- Potty Training. Yes it starts from potty training. I encourage my children to go potty every day. And I make it something they are proud of. In fact your poo is celebrated with a high five and a good job in my house. It is something to be proud of.
- Water Water Water: I don’t need to expend much energy on extolling the virtues of water. Our bodies are made up of 60% (?) of water, right? So water at every meal. Cute and cool water bottles help. Look for ways to encourage children to drink water.
- Early to bed- Early to rise. An adult needs an average of 6-8 hours of sleep daily. A child needs more than that. So work out bed time from wake-up time. My kids are in bed by 8.30pm and up by 6.30am… that’s a lot of Zzzzzz. You should see their energy-level when they wake up ….. It’s like whoosh! Through the roof!
- A balanced diet: While I don’t encourage a restrictive diet in children except on doctor’s orders. I do worry when kids get no variety in their meals. No fruits, No veggies and a lot of junk. Let’s cut back on the heavily processed foods, the pizzas, the burgers, the fast foods. Nothing feels as good as a home –cooked meal. I am quite aware some children are picky eaters so it may take time and a lot of effort to find what they like eating but the end result is worth it. Don’t give up.
- Breakfast: My kids dislike breakfast time so much, so I switched breakfast to smoothies. Find out what works for your kids but try to discourage them skipping breakfast.
- Fruits: I do admit fruits can be expensive but once I have the cash I forgo their once a day snack (They get a sippy drink and a biscuit a day for school snack time) and switch to fruits ;carrots, oranges, apples, tangerines and grapes are popular choices. At home they get watermelons, pawpaws and mangos, basically whatever fruit is in season. Once again keep experimenting till you find what works.Don’t give up.
- Get moving: I saved the best for the last. We need to get our kids moving more. I can never forget when I asked my nephew if he’d like to go for a walk with me and he asked if we were taking the car. He was 10 years old at this time. It doesn’t cost a lot to get children moving. Going for walks is a popular choice. It may not be daily but I try to make it as often as possible. Getting children moving doesn’t have to be expensive. A couple of Sundays ago We went to the Kanu Ndubusi Park at Alausa and they haven’t stopped taking about it. Last Sunday it was bubbles.. yep I said bubbles.. blowing bubbles and having them run around to catch them. We also enjoy going to the pool for swimming as often as possible, I have mentioned that before HERE.
I know it sounds like a lot to do but you don’t have to do it all at once. One habit here one habit there. But don’t quit, Raising a healthy living child is worth the effort. This is a topic that is very passionate to me and I would really like to hear your simple ways of encouraging healthy living in your children.
Please note I’m neither a doctor nor a nutritionist, I’m just a concerned parent.
I know it sounds like a lot to do but you don’t have to do it all at once. One habit here one