How to Get Kids to Eat Healthy

Do you remember the most recent time that your entire family sat down around the dining table and ate dinner together? Was your child at the table too or in his or her room while eating and watching television unsupervised? This describes the picture of what many American families experience and tolerate with their children. While you may be no different now, you can change things because this is not good for you or your child, especially if your child has become obese due to bad eating habits. A parent or parents together must work in unison to steer children in the right direction and healthy eating is among those things. Let’s take a look at how healthy food choices can make a difference.

The Involvement

If you want to be sure that your child eats healthy, you should then involve your child in the planning of meals, preparing the meals and actually going with you to the grocery store to do the shopping. The time that your child invests into these household chores will start to make a world of difference. Even if you have a toddler, you can get him or her involved with helping you to make certain easy meals or healthy snacks. These activities will teach children how to prepare and eat healthy foods.

Food Source

It is your responsibility as a parent to teach your children where food originates from. Instead of restricting yourself to going grocery shopping once per week, it would be helpful to take your children to the local farmer’s market, giving them an opportunity to meet the farmers that grow the actual food and ask questions. If you plant tomatoes in your garden, let the child help you to pick the tomatoes, appreciating the labor of love that goes into it before actual eating it.

Healthy Snacks

Stock up your pantry with healthy snacks for your children. Without any help from you, the child will have something healthy to reach for when you are not around. If you are traveling in the car with your child, be sure to take along healthy snacks such as whole grain crackers, raisins, carrot sticks, sliced apples and water.

Freedom to Choose

Children also love the freedom to choose. So, if you are strapped for time and not able to fix four or five different meals chosen by each family member, you could fix a base meal such as rice and beans or whole grain tortillas and then allow your kids and any adults present to dress up the meal with what they want such as lettuce, salsa, parsley, toppings, tomatoes, cheese or cabbage. You could also try fixing different kinds of pasta with healthy choices of different sauces.  At snack time, your children will likely love to have options. Therefore, you could consider including various healthy snacks in their lunch bag to take to school and have those available at home too.

The Bottom Line

Last, but not least, you should become a role model for your children by eating healthy yourself. Children will usual adopt the food choices that they see from parents. So, be an ambassador for change by putting health first.

How Parents Can Prevent Childhood Obesity

Many children around the world experience issues with obesity. Is it the child’s fault? Well, no blame needs to be cast here, but parents have a due diligence to make sure that their child or children eat healthy and are active every day. If parents allow their children to be out of control with their eating habits and lead a sedentary lifestyle, it does no good to anyone. While, this may not appear to be a problem now, in the child’s latter years, it will definitely cause issues, personally and physically to the child.

The Problems

Obesity in children can cause subsequent issues such as:

  •       Heart problems
  •       Depression
  •       Bullying
  •       Irritation
  •       Anorexia
  •       Bulimia
  •       Low self esteem
  •       Lack of confidence
  •       Other public phobias

The health problems are the most urgent matter since obese children are in more danger when it comes to healthy choices. Those extra pounds added on can lead to diabetes, joint pain, high blood pressure, liver problems and so much more. Many obese children have taken up bad habits later on such as smoking, substance abuse, alcoholism and other negative things that eventually are emotionally damaging.

Healthy Food Choices

Parents are the ones that go to the grocery store to shop for food. So, the first thing to consider is not taking the child with you to the grocery store.  Many children will want to pick up the sugary cereals and candies while shopping with their parents. In many instances, when they don’t get their way, the child will have a tantrum in the store. So that the child can stop crying, the parent will usually oblige and buy the unhealthy item. If you can leave your child at home with an adult or hire a babysitter, this could save you the trouble. Before you go to the supermarket, make a list of healthy food choices for the household and stick to the list. If you don’t have a babysitter or adult at home and have to take the child with you to the store, be firm and say NO to the child’s demand for unhealthy food choices.

Balance the Calories

While you want to ensure that your child eats healthy, you also don’t’ want to make it too frustrating for the child. Therefore, there has to be a balance. So, if your child eats a certain amount of calories one day, for example, make sure that the child burns off that amount of calories in exercise or other physical activity. This will also make sure that your child has a balanced weight during normal growth patterns. Never place your child into a weight reduction program or diet without first talking to a medical professional.

The Bottom Line

You should encourage your child to eat healthy. If you have to whip up a smoothie with the child’s favorite veggies and fruits, by all means do so. Tip a little honey for taste. Once your child has that tasty smoothie, they may be sold on healthy eating. So, what it boils down to – parents should be creative in putting the right foods into their children’s diet so that it tastes good enough to enjoy. Additionally, parents should make exercise fun and exciting enough that the child will look forward to it.

 

How to Encourage Family Exercise and Fitness

Most health experts think that parents have an integral role into the way that their kids feel about embracing a healthy lifestyle. Inherently, children realize at an early age that their parents are their primary mentors, heroes, educators, role models and supporters. This is a huge responsibility for parents as kids think any kind of behavior coming from the parent is appropriate and acceptable, even if it is good or bad. Kids watch parents for direction, mirroring the actions displayed. So, if parents show a sedentary lifestyle, there is a huge possibility that children will do the same thing. On the other hand, if children see their parents exhibiting an active and healthy lifestyle, it is a good chance that they will also do the same thing.

Create a Family Bond

Parents who make exercise their lifestyle will tend to show the same thing to their children. In fact, parents can involve their kids in simple exercise routine to strengthen and reinforce the family bond and create a tradition in the family that children will carry with them to adulthood. This idea is essential for active parents that do not have time to spend with kids one-on-one to incorporate individual exercise routines.

Regular Exercise Program

Every child should be involved in an exercise program every day. This will help with the normal growth and development of the child. There are so many benefits to exercise as part of a lifestyle choice. It is the ideal activity to fight against major diseases and obesity. But, more than that, children involved in regular exercise tend to be better at academics and handling stress reduction. The body language from parents is always observed by the children. If the child notices any parent getting up at 6 in the morning to work out, the child will view this as being normal. For that reason, it will be easier of the child to adapt to the same lifestyle.

Family Exercise

A family that exercises together will stay healthy together. So, parents should make this a family thing. Get some gym equipment and secure a room in the home, if you have the space, as an exercise room. Put up mirrors in the room to make it more interesting as kids will love to watch themselves while exercising. Monitor the exercise program so kids can be safe. Make it fun by giggling your way through it as your child tries to adapt to the different moves.

Family Video

Use a portable camera and along with your kids, make a family exercise video that you can use in your family workout routine. Your kids will love to watch themselves again, using the same routine to have more fun than they did while making the video. You can make multiple videos for variation so you and the kids don’t get bored.

Dancing

You can put on a bunch of fun music and dance along with no set routine. Jump around, skip, shake, shimmy and allow the fun to unfold. It will take little effort and a lot of fun to burn those calories while having family time.

 

How Does Obesity Impact Teenagers

It is sad to say, but there are many obese and overweight children that really are unhappy during their childhood due to being viewed as an outcast by their peers as it relates to their weight. This comes with a lot of emotional duress for the child, especially when the child graduates to become a teenager.

The Teen Years

During the teenager years, it is very difficult to fit in. It may be possible, if you have wealthy parents or popular because of your humor. However, in most cases, it is not possible. During those years of being overweight, you may feel as if you are not good enough, you don’t meet the social standards of other teens and you are not accepted. You may be targeted by a minority group of skinny teenagers who are seeking the limelight. In those cases, bullying is usually the result.

Public Scrutiny

As an obese teenager, you are going to always be conscious of your appearance, especially when it does not match up to many of your peers. You probably have a heavy feeling when it is time to go to school or go somewhere in public. Society can be very cruel when it comes to how they stare and make ugly comments about the overweight teenager. In many instances, if you were to go to the mall, for example with your mom, people would stare angrily at your mom as if to blame her for you being that way. While this may be partially true, it doesn’t mean that you should face the public scrutiny, embarrassment and hurt.

The Embarrassment

As an overweight teenager, you will face some kind of embarrassment out in public, but you will also face it when you have to share changing room with a bunch of skinny teenagers on your way to gym class. Has that happened to you? You are not alone. Teens from all over the globe encounter that same problem too.

Discrimination

As an obese teenager, you will face discrimination among your peers and when you are out in public. Discrimination comes in many forms, but especially subtle as your own teachers may see you as being ‘fat and lazy.’ People have little tolerance and compassion for the obese. A teacher, for example, may choose another teenager over you to try out for an extracurricular activity.

Clinical Obesity

In the past two decades, clinical obesity has seen an increase from six percent to a whopping fifteen percent. In fact, many pediatricians and family doctors will tell you that it has become a chronic epidemic among teenagers and children. Obesity has hospitalized many teenagers over the years with a threat to their health.

Body Image

When you are a teenager, it is normal to want to look a certain way physically. An overweight teenager cannot get to dress the way the skinny counterpart does. You probably won’t be able to fit into the latest designer clothes and look like the majority. Parents should be instrumental in providing emotional support and encourage exercise and healthy eating. With a poor body image, teenagers can have a lack of confidence and low self-esteem. This can also result in depression and other emotional issues that can carry over into adulthood.

 

What Happens If I Default on My Student Loan?

For a young graduate, tuition costs are huge. For that reason, college students have to consider financial aid or student loans to cover the costs. Student loans may amount to hundreds, even thousands of dollars in debt. What do you do if you are faced with these major debts and you are financially challenged, so much so that you have defaulted on your student loan? Student loans are one of those kinds of debt that remains with the cosigner or borrower for as long as it is outstanding.

The Options

You cannot opt for bankruptcy or debt settlement when it comes to student loans. In fact, the court does not allow you to list your student loan on a bankruptcy declaration form; neither can you contact the federal government or bank and ask for a settlement. It does not work that way. Additionally, you cannot ignore the student loan bills that come in the mail; whether you can pay or not. You have to deal with it because this is not the kind of loan that you can get rid of.

The Consequences

However, what happens when you genuinely cannot make your monthly loan payments? You will have late payment charges, but if you continue to allow the bill to rise to hundreds or thousands of dollars, there can be major consequences. Your loan could go into default status where the lender wants you to pay the full balance.

The Timeline

Once you miss a payment on your student loan, the lender places you in delinquent status, no matter the reason for the delinquency. Your lender will see this as a huge red flag. When the payment is past due for 90 days, the lender will report it to the credit bureaus. Your credit scores will drop and you will have a negative mark against your credit rating. After you have not paid your loan payment in 270 days, the lender will place you in a default status.

Impact on Tax Refund

More importantly, the IRS could seize your income tax refund for defaulting on a student loan. One way or the other, you will have to pay your student loan.  Just so you know, the IRS works with the education department to collect millions of dollars in defaulted student loans.

Your Benefits

For reimbursement of your defaulted student loan, the government can also interrupt your social security benefits and disability benefits, but not your SSI income. One thing to note and that is the government is not allowed to leave you with less than $750 each month as income or benefits. Additionally, the government is not allowed to exceed 15% in total benefit to repay a student loan.

Easy Healthy Lunch Ideas Your Kids Will Love

We all know what those school-made lunches are like these days. Stale, covered in grease, lacking in nutrients, and frozen. Not ideal for a growing kid. Or anyone, really.

 

Packing your kids’ lunches can only take a few minutes out of your day, and it makes a huge difference in their health and happiness. Plus, it can be a sweet way to remind your child that you’re thinking of them during their day at school.

 

First, ditch the paper bag. Invest in a sturdy lunchbox (you know it’ll get tossed around mercilessly) with little mess-free dividers, or put in your own small individual reusable plastic containers. Those will keep the food from spilling, getting smashed, and generally creating a mess; plus you’ll save money on disposable baggies.

 

Here are a few easy packed lunch ideas that are both health, easy, and kid-approved delicious:

 

Mediterranean-Inspired

 

A handful of olives, sliced red peppers and cucumbers, cubed cheeses, and some whole wheat crackers or bread with a side of hummus will keep your kid full and alert throughout the day. Add some grapes for a serving of fruit, and you’ve laid out a whole mediterranean-themed meal!

 

Sneakily Healthy Pasta Salads

 

For many kids, their favorite meal consists of almost exclusively starches. Mac ‘n cheese, spaghetti, ramen, etc. But those are often full of empty carbs and sodium and are completely lacking in nutrients.

 

But a make-ahead pasta salad is a great way to work some veggies into your kids’ lunches without trying to force them to like carrot sticks. These five healthy pasta salad recipes are insanely easy, and you can make them ahead of time so they’re ready to go in time for school with no rushing around.

 

Jazz Up the Sandwich

 

Maybe your kid never gets tired of a PB&J or ham and cheese. But maybe you’re tired of them crashing from that sugar high. You can make sandwiches interesting for kids who are sick of the same old thing, and you can make them healthier, too.

 

Start by thinking outside the basic bread. Try…

  • Bagels
  • Pita
  • Flatbread
  • Tortilla
  • English muffins

 

If you’re both tired of the standard sandwich format, switch it up with some of these ideas…

  • Whole wheat tortilla wraps with turkey, veggies, and cheese
  • Hummus wraps with feta and falafel
  • Lettuce wraps with chicken, avocado, and a spicy peanut sauce
  • Mashed beans spread on a tortilla with healthy taco toppings and a side of salsa for dipping

 

You can always include the ingredients for them, add some pieces of pita, and let them assemble it themselves. That way nothing is soggy, and lunch is never boring.

 

Tips to Keep Lunches Healthy and Tummies Happy

 

Don’t forget to keep your kids hydrated! Sending them to school with a refillable bottle of water is the smartest, cheapest, and healthiest option, but a low-sugar juice every now and then makes for a good treat.

 

Get creative with lunchtime! Just remember to always include in every meal…

  • A source of protein
  • Plenty of veggies
  • Some fruit

 

Remember to include some sort of healthy fats to keep them full. Dairy, avocado, eggs, and other staples can take care of that.

 

Give them a little treat with each meal, too. It can be as simple as a piece of chocolate or a little package of their favorite healthy snack foods. Write down a quick little “I love you” note, or wish them well on a test, and slip it in the lunchbox before they head out the door for a sweet lunchtime surprise.

 

Healthy Snacks Your Kids Will Ask For

Getting your kids to eat healthy can seem impossible. The misconception of food being good for your must mean that it tastes bad and if food tastes good then it must be bad for you. Instead of letting your kids go to the pantry and grab some potato chips get them to grab the trail mix instead. It is no shock that our society is in a struggle with obesity. America is one of the fattest countries in the world. Our diets and lives are surrounded and advertised with unhealthy foods that make it difficult to make the healthy decisions needed. You as a parent need to think about how you can give your child a head start in life with healthy nutritional habits.

 

One of the hardest things to do is  to get your children to eat is their fruits and veggies. Drowning those veggies in butter will not help however, nor is dressing the fruit with spoonfuls of sugar. Hopefully you have made the decision that healthy eating habits are best taught when the child is young. If not that’s ok it is never too late to become healthy. You are the parent, lead by example and make healthy recipes that your kids will want to eat and ask for. Not sure where to start do not worry we have made a list of tasty healthy snacks that your kids will love. Now if your child has food allergies some of these treats are not for them. If there is a peanut allergy you can try to substitute peanut butter for almond butter.

 

SnackTime

  • Peanut Butter Balls – No baking required. Simply take ½ cup peanut butter, 1 cup of oats, ⅓ cup honey, 1tsp vanilla, (½ cup chocolate chips optional) mix ingredients and roll into bite sized balls and refrigerate (good for one week)

 

  • Guacamole and Pita Chips. Better alternative to potato chips and processed dips.
  • Cottage Cheese and Fruit
  • Try veggies with hummus, it’s not just for adults
  • Veggie Pinwheels- Take a tortilla, spread a thin layer of ranch dip and place thinly cut carrots, broccoli, cucumbers, any veggie you want. Roll up and cut into one inch bit sized wheels.
  • Sliced Apples and Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip-¾ cup plain greek yogurt, 1Tbsp honey, 1 Tbsp natural peanut butter, ¼ tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla extract and mix.
  • Trail Mix-1 oz dried bananas, 1 oz freeze-dried cranberries, 2 oz unsalted almonds, 2 cups popped fat-free kettle corn and mix
  • Caramelized Bananas-2 ripe bananas, 2 Tbsp honey, dash of cinnamon, pinch of salt, and 2Tbsp coconut oil or grapeseed oil. Place oil in a pan on medium heat, slice bananas, add all other ingredients to the pan first then the bananas. Cook five minutes on each side.
  • Baked Apple Chips- Slice 1-2 apples thinly and sprinkle with 1tsp of cinnamon. Baked at 200 degrees for an hour flip apples and baked 1-2 hours more.

 

The list could go on and on. Get creative and try to come up with recipes that your kids will love. Most of these recipes have 3-5 ingredients. So easy and you can make them ahead of time. Perfect for after school or anytime snacking. Get your kids started on the path to healthy living now.  

Fitness Games to Make Kids WANT to Exercise

Getting kids to exercise doesn’t have to be a chore. Just get them to do what kids do best: play!

 

 

  • The Floor Is Lava

 

 

Every kid since the dawn of time has played some variation of this game. It’s fun when you’re at the park and you’re on the jungle gym, but it’s just as doable at home with whatever’s lying around.

 

You know the drill: gather up cushions, sheets of paper, or whatever you have and scatter them around a large space. The kids have to navigate the room by exclusively touching the “safe” spots that you’ve established together. The floor is hot lava, and if they touch it, they’re “out.”

 

You can either turn it into a race or timed competition to see how quickly they can cross the pretend-volcanic terrain, or you can turn it into a fierce form of tag. In the tag version, one person starts out as the “lava monster” and can try to tag the players as they scamper around on their safe zones. If they fall in the lava or get tagged by the monster, they can also become lava monsters for an extra challenge.

 

Their hearts will get pumping, they’ll be making explosive jumping movements across the lava, and their coordination and balance will be tested. It’s a great way to get them tuckered out!

 

  1. Laser Beam Obstacle Course

 

You know in the movies the jewel thief always has to carefully maneuver through a field of laser beams that could trigger an alarm? They had to rely on flexibility, core strength, and endurance in order to make it through.

 

Your kids can play at exciting espionage while getting in a workout! Find a space, and get some string. (Bonus points if it’s the classic laser-red!) Place a prize in the center of the space, then zigzag the string across the room until you have a substantial web around the prize. You can affix the string to bare walls with a bit of painter’s tape, or you can simply hook it around doorknobs, stair banisters, or whatever is available.

 

You can up the challenge level by overlapping the string more. Your kids will now have to inch their way through the crisscrossing string in order to get to the prize in the center and back out without touching the string and triggering the “alarm.” Think of it as a more dynamic and challenging game of Twister!

 

  1. Kid-Friendly Paintball

 

Paintball is one of many adults’ favorite fun ways to get exercise. It gets you up and running, dodging, crouching and hiding, and does wonders for cardio. But it’s not particularly safe for kids.

 

This version divides kids into teams, just like you would with traditional paintball. But instead of wielding dangerous and painful pain pellet guns, give them plain old water guns. Fill them with water that’s been dyed with food coloring. Dress the kids in light-colored or white clothes that you wouldn’t care about ruining with the dye.

 

It’s best if you do this in big outdoor space with plenty of obstacles and things to dart around behind, just like a real paintball course. When the kids are hit with the colored water, they’re out. Once everyone’s out, count how many shirts have been marked by each team’s color. The team with the most “outs” wins.

Tips to Ensure Your Child Stays Fit

Your child needs to be physically active in order to stay fit. This is especially true when the child is obese and inactive. As a child develops, physical activity becomes even more essential. Get your child into a sport, if there is no interest. There are many activities for children to get involved with. Many of these activities are offered at school or at a community sport center or gym. To initiate interest, as a parent, it is best to start at home, possibly in your backyard. This will help to improve coordination, dexterity, movement patterns and fosters confidence building, especially when dealing with peers.

Setting an Example

In so doing, you will set an example that being active is a normal lifestyle change. In some instances when you are out with the child, park your car a few blocks away from the grocery store and walk. Instead of using the escalator at the mall, go up the stairs. Have the kids wake early and take a walk around the block with you. If that doesn’t work, have them do pushups and jumping jacks before dinner is ready.

Go to the Park

Your little ones will love the idea of going to the park. Their thought process is that of play time while you are aware that this also provides a way for the child to be active. Therefore, they will gladly go with you. Jumping and running at the park will serve to help with the development of motor and coordination skills, building bones and muscles and providing an outlet to release energy.

Boot Camp

There are boot camps offered across the nation, specifically geared towards youth fitness. This is something to consider. Children will be taught the essentials, importance and benefits of physical exercise. They will work with a fitness specialist in a safe environment. It can be fun, but also beneficial to their well-being and health.

Household Duties

As a parent, you should consider giving your kids each a specific household duty to perform each day or each week. This could be done before or after school and could include things like dog walking, washing the dishes, dusting the furniture or vacuuming the carpet. The child will learn what it means to be responsible for something and it will also serve to bring you together as a family. Of course, at first, you might meet some resistance, but after doing it a few times, the child will get accustomed to it. You can take it a step further by offering a small financial reward in exchange.

The Whole Family

Each weekend, when the weather is fine, the entire family can be involved in physical activity. It could be playing catch at the park or in the backyard. It could also involve going to a game room where there is a trampoline. You would be surprised how much fun everyone could have. Some weekends, you could also incorporate jump rope or hide and go seek at home.

Proper Nutrition

Lastly, it is the parent’s duty to ensure that proper nutrition is maintained at home. This is one of the most difficult and challenging decision for many families. Choose foods that provide the best nutrition. If you have to pack lunch to make sure that your child receives adequate fruits, protein and veggies, by all means do so.

 

10 Ways To Help Your Kids Stay Fit

Get off the phone and go outside! How many times have we said this to our kids? Countless. It is no surprise that the norm for kids of this generation is to sit and play on their electronics. Teenagers do not go anywhere without updating their status, hashtagging, and taking selfies. And even the younger ones are sucked in by video games that keep their eyes glued to the screen. With all of this sitting around it is no wonder that childhood obesity and health are at risk. Kids are not getting enough exercise. Starting a fitness routine early is key to a healthy lifestyle for you and your kids. Even if you are just starting now, it is never too late to teach your children how to stay fit. Here are ten simple ways to get your kids on track without them even realizing that they are exercising.

  1. Play FitBall

If you have ever played hot potato then you can understand how to play this game. Supplies that are need are a beach ball, permanent marker, and music. In various spots on the ball write out simple exercises to do, like five squats. Sit in a circle have someone play DJ (to stop and start the music). When the music stops whoever has the ball will determine with their right thumb what exercise the group will do.

  1. Roll The Dice

Make dice with posterboard and markers. One die labeled with numbers and the other with exercises. Roll the dice and complete the exercises and number of exercises based on what the dice lands on.

  1. Dance

Turn on the music and have a dance party! The easiest and usually most fun way to exercise. If you can stand it let the kids play their music.

  1. Play Simon Says

Use simon says to get those kids moving. Make sure the rules indicate that it must be exercise related.

  1. Relay Race

Create a relay race with various exercise stops. Get creative and use jump rope, jumping jacks, burpees. Make different stations and whoever completes the race will win a prize.

  1. Go For A Hike

Look for local or nearby sites to hike and plan a day of getting closer to nature. It could be a new family bonding event.

  1. Bike Ride

Go for a nice bike ride. Take your kids to local areas and show them you don’t have to drive the car everywhere.

  1. Do Trampoline Tricks

Sometimes kids can get bored just jumping on the trampoline. Try doing some safe trampoline tricks and make a game of it.

  1. Balloon Volleyball

This is perfect for when it’s cold outside. Since you can’t play ball in the house play with a balloon. A house friendly way to burn off some energy.

  1. Walk Around Your Neighborhood

Not only will it provide your and your children with great benefits it can become a great way to communicate with your kids. Make a routine of it. It can become another way to bond with your child.

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