Incorporate these simple ideas into your lifestyle to help keep your family healthy and happy.
For all families
Create a safe food environment. Eliminate tempting foods and sodas from the house.
Give children big cups of water when they come home from school and with each meal. Water is the best way to replenish the body's fluids and is a low-cost and healthy beverage.
Reduce television watching. Insist that children do the "TV-commercial boogie": dancing, jumping, or simply standing up and moving their arms and legs around during commercials. Doing this increases children's physical activity and reduces the impact of fast-food-focused advertising.
Spend at least 30 minutes each day (60 is better) playing before starting homework. Encourage your child to play outside.
Eat together as a family, sitting at a table without distractions.
Up To Age 5
Breast-feed. Studies have shown that breast-feeding helps protect against diabetes and obesity.
When you start a baby on solid foods, give vegetables before fruits to avoid developing a sweet tooth.
Don't restrict dietary fats for children under 2 years. Their developing brains require adequate amounts of fat in the diet. So, for example, whole milk and yogurt can be good choices for toddlers.
Don't worry about weight in very young children. What a toddler weighs is not indicative of his or her adult weight. A parent's weight, particularly the mother's, is a better predictor of potential weight problems.
Don't restrict portions for young children. Preschoolers naturally stop eating when they are full.
Expose small children to a diversity of food. Children often don't like a new food the first time they try it, so give them second—and third—chances to acquaint themselves with it.
See what motivates teenagers to lose weight. Fighting cancer may not motivate them, but having nicer skin, fitting into a smaller size, or improving their athletic performance might.
Include teenagers in decision making about food and exercise.
Teach your teenager how to eat out without pigging out, by buying kids' meals (half the calories, plus a toy!), splitting meals, ordering appetizers instead of entrées, and knowing which foods to avoid entirely.
Many teenagers like to talk on the telephone. Tell your teen, "You can talk as long as you walk." (This may require investing in a cordless phone.) The moment your teen sits down, the conversation is over.
Specifically For Parents
Set aside family time for shared physical activity, such as walks after dinner.
Use positive reinforcement.
Don't use food as a reward or a punishment.
Set guidelines and limits, explain them, and stick to them.