HomeHealth & BehaviorHealth & Nutrition

American Camp Association

New Year's resolution: your children's healthiest year ever!

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Ask your pediatrician for a referral if your children are not within their normal weight range or have developed complications related to obesity.

Remember when our children were toddlers and we were in a hurry? We would tell them to hurry up, but instead they would only go slower. We did not understand that our anxiety of being in a rush was picked up by our kids and this alarmed them. Their response was to go slowly because that was their comfort zone. And this in turn frustrated us all the more. If we understand how kids work, then we can control situations better.

As parents we need to accept our part in our child's battle of the bulge. The chunky child is not to blame or shame. In order to conquer the childhood obesity epidemic, we must make a difference one child and one family at a time. To start, we must teach that food is fuel. Similar to your car, we need the right types and combinations of fuel for our bodies to run efficiently. Good nutrition, or lack of it, will affect a child long after a parent is gone. We need to set our priorities straight. The brand of tennis shoes is not nearly as important as the type of protein we buy our children.

We need to slow down because we move through life too fast. All the conveniences of the 21st century have not given us what we really want: more time. We get caught up in a whirlwind and do not know how to get out.

Take stock of what is really important to you.

And begin to spend our time and efforts in this area. We must pick and choose. We must learn to say no to things that do not further our priorities. If we say our family is most important to us, then we need to put our time and efforts with them. This is not easy in our world, but it can be done once you are conscious of your wishes.

Over the years, it has been convenient to place the blame on genetics for our children being overweight. It is far easier to accept when you can point the finger to someplace other than looking in the mirror. But the same genetic pool can turn out two very different children. Many would say the skinny one is lucky and the chunky one is not. But in reality, the opposite may be true. It is recognized by many that being overweight is a symptom of being unhealthy. So the chunky kid actually is getting the wake up call to do better. The skinny kid may very well have the beginning stages of heart disease from eating the same foods that weighed down the chunky kid, but the skinny kid is living in false hope that they are healthy. Therefore, parents are not punishing the skinny kid by keeping junk food out of the home. Our homes must remain the safe zone by stocking only foods with benefits. Snack items should be string cheese, low-fat pudding or fruit, to suggest a few.

Genetics may predispose a child to obesity, but it is truly lifestyle that causes it. Let us set our families up for success by creating a safe environment and a fundamental base for the family's healthy development.

Resolve not to buy junk food for anyone in the house.

Remember that your kids love you, too, and want you around for many years to come. Once in a while, make it a special event to go out for ice cream ... although frozen yogurt may be a better choice, but you do not have to be perfect. Just choose wisely more often than not!

Every New Year, we get the opportunity to reflect on what we have done and where we are headed. So many of us have put our children on a path to illness instead of our innate wish to head them on a "happily ever after" version of life. Now that we know better, this New Year let us resolve to "do better."

© 2005 American Camp Association Inc. Founded in 1910, the American Camp Association is a national community of camp professionals and is dedicated to enriching the lives of children and adults through the camp experience.