Childhood obesity has become an epidemic in America. It’s crucial we start opening up to our kids about health and how to live our lives to the fullest. We want to empower them to take responsibility and be present when eating and exercising. If we do this the right way, we can all live happier, healthier lives together.

Excess weight in a child can be very concerning. This can lead to multiple health problems, conditions and solidify bad habits that can follow them into adulthood.

When discussing health issues, it’s important to not damage a child’s self esteem or body image. Here’s a couple tips on how you can discuss a healthy lifestyle with your child.

  • Avoid any mention of weight. Don’t focus on a number or the need to lose weight. Instead focus on building healthy behaviors. CAN is stronger than CAN’T. For example, let’s try adding in some more vegetables at breakfast or dinner. If a child is used to regularly having dessert, try creating a new healthier version like this banana nice cream. Getting the kids involved in the kitchen makes it fun and exciting for the whole family.
  • Praise efforts, not results. Again, avoid watching a number on a scale or going down a size in clothing should not be the focus. Recognize your child’s efforts when they enjoy eating a new vegetable or want to go play outside instead of sitting in front of the computer or TV.
  • No comparisons. This is a tough one with the growth of social media. Try not to let your children compare themselves to anyone else. Teach them how we all come in different shapes and sizes and no one shape is perfect or the right one.

At the end of the day, as a parent, you are a role model. Your children look up to you and learn their habits from you and their surroundings. You need to make sure you are a good example and live a healthy lifestyle – try new vegetables, incorporate exercise into your week, get outside with the family. Making healthy meals easily accessible is a simple way to keep the whole family healthy.

And lastly, watch what you say. Body shaming yourself, saying “I look fat in this” etc, teaches your kids that weight is more important than health. Don’t teach them to build their self-esteem based off their appearance. With conscious effort you can make sure your home has a focus on living a healthy life that’s attainable and sustainable!