By Guest Blogger Samantha L. Miller, MD, Family Medicine Physician at Wake Forest Baptist Health Family Medicine – Reynolda
We are quickly approaching Halloween and the holidays—a time of year marked by overindulgence. And while it’s nice to allow your child a treat every now and then, it’s important not to let it get too far out of control. Poor eating habits can have dire health consequences—one of which is diabetes. Just this past week alone, I diagnosed two children with pre-diabetes. The increasingly common diagnoses of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes in children are most often due to childhood obesity. Unfortunately, this is becoming the new norm. In addition to diabetes, obesity also contributes to heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and sleep apnea.
Obviously, no one wants their children to have to deal with serious health issues—particularly at a young age. Fortunately, the right habits can help prevent these risk factors. Here are some ideas for making smart choices during the holidays ahead:
Halloween. It might seem nearly impossible to prevent your child from gorging on all of the sugary goodies available during this holiday. However, just a few simple adjustments can help:
- Have your children eat a full meal before attending parties or trick-or-treating. This will encourage them to eat fewer sweets that evening.
- Help your kids make healthy choices if you’re hosting the party yourself. Certain non-candy treats can be a big hit. Bobbing for apples, anyone?
- Consider giving out non-food treats such as coloring books or small toys.
You don’t have to outlaw sweets entirely. Just changing a couple things here or there can make a huge difference that your kids probably won’t even notice. Also, if you’re health conscious all year long, then a little splurge is completely harmless on special occasions.
Throughout the year. The simple concept of making a few small changes can revolutionize your family’s nutrition for the whole year. We tend to make this harder on ourselves than it needs to be. Good nutrition shouldn’t mean deprivation or not being able to enjoy food. You can implement just one or two of these tips at a time and see big changes:
- Eliminate sugary beverages like soft drinks.
- Don’t skip breakfast.
- Substitute whole grains for starches.
- Incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet.
- Eat together as a family.
- Drink low-fat or skim instead of whole milk.
- Reduce portion sizes.
- Serve more baked foods than fried ones.
- Emphasize and promote water drinking.
- Don’t skip well-checks with your family doctor.
Remember, small changes phased in over time are less restrictive but can have a major impact.
Your child’s diet is a critical factor in reducing the risk of obesity, but physical activity is important, too. Don’t forget; children are supposed to play! So ensure your child has about 60 minutes of physical activity everyday. Screen-time (TV, computer, phone, tablet) should be limited to under one or two hours per day.
If you have a concern about your children’s weight or health and want further information on how to make changes in your family’s diet and daily routine, contact your family’s pediatrician. You may also want to participate in the Brenner FIT program. Brenner FIT offers free nutrition classes to all members of the community. You can find out more by visiting BrennerChildrens.org/Pediatric-Obesity.
*Sponsored by Wake Forest Baptist Health