Three Common Mistakes Parents Make When Feeding Their Children

There are two primary causes for childhood obesity. They are a sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits. Parents play a strong role in a child’s eating habits and lifestyle. Parents set the rules. They provide the food. They model healthy, or unhealthy, behaviors.

To prevent childhood obesity, several steps need to be taken and they start with feeding children. Avoid these common mistakes and you can help your child prevent or reverse childhood obesity.

#1 Too many sweets – Many parents let their children eat sweets for snacks. They provide their children with sweets for breakfast, such as toaster pops.  And they serve dessert with every lunch and dinner. Dessert and sweets should be a special occasion, not a regular occurrence. Take a look through your cupboards and find the sweets. Toss them, freeze them for a special occasion, or store them.

Bring sweets out on holidays, birthdays, and the occasional dessert. When children become accustomed to eating sweets all of the time, they begin to depend on them for energy. It creates a cycle of blood sugar spikes and plummets. They crave more sweets. The result is an increase in body fat, less energy and eventually insulin resistance. The end result of insulin resistance is diabetes and obesity.

#2 Not enough vegetables – Children need the nutrients vegetables provide. However, most children and adults get far fewer in their daily diet than their body needs. Offer fruits and vegetables at every meal. In fact, offer them at snack time too. And consider offering at least two vegetables at mealtime.

Steam some green beans and throw together a quick salad. Serve vegetables with dips like hummus and low-fat dressings. Ask your child to at least try the vegetables. Eventually, they’ll learn to like them.

#3 Too many starchy carbohydrates – White flour has the same effect on your child’s blood sugar as sugar does. The body burns it quickly. It’s absorbed into the blood stream causing blood sugar levels to spike and then it’s gone. This leaves a person feeling hungry and craving more energy in the form of starchy carbs and sugar. Buy whole grain bread, pretzels and crackers. Offer your children more whole grain cereals and healthy snack foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Parents of all children regardless of age, health and weight make these mistakes. The good news is they’re easy to fix. A little advanced planning and smart grocery shopping will do the trick. Plan your meals. Make sure the cupboards are filled with healthy snacks. And know that a bag of carrots is cheaper than a bag of potato chips.

To your child’s good health!

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Parenting and Family Specialist