What is in this article?:
Because many overweight children do indeed become plump adults, it's smart to emphasize lifestyle modification at an early age. Try these no-fuss strategies from experts to overcome today's biggest pitfalls of sound family nutrition.
Eating pitfall: Snack attacks
With so much unhealthy snack food marketed toward kids, it's easy for tykes to graze their way to a bigger pant size.
Why fret: A 2008 study in Italy linked savory, energy-dense snack foods with childhood obesity. And USDA research shows the percentage of children eating three regular meals a day has decreased over the past 25 years, while consumption of high-calorie snack-type foods has gone up. “Unhealthy snacking can have an impact on academic performance, energy levels, and weight,” Ayoob says.
Try this: Give your pantry and fridge an overhaul. Get rid of nutrient-devoid chips, cookies, and soda. “Replace these with healthier, portable fuel like nuts, baby carrots, low-fat string and cottage cheese, yogurt, and dried fruit,” suggests Ayoob. This does away with the good-versus-bad food battle on the home front. Ponichtera suggests keeping a bowl of varicolored seasonal fruit on the counter for when your kids return home ravenous. She also recommends offering sliced veggies and fruit with yummy and nutritious yogurt, guacamole, or hummus dips, or making after-school smoothies with frozen fruit, low-fat milk, and yogurt. And check out Delicious Living's healthy snacks for kids.
Because watching television — including all those commercials extolling unhealthy foods — provides an ideal time for mindless snacking (studies link excess TV time with elevated body fat), consider pulling the plug after an hour. And if you must snack in front of the tube, “natural, unbuttered popcorn is excellent because it's whole grain, low in calories, and high in filling fiber,” Ponichtera says.