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Healthy Weight Week

by Lori Sciame | January 11th, 2012 | Preschool

Perfect timing. Right after the holidays, and during the dead of winter, health officials plan to celebrate Healthy Weight Week. It’s a health observance that’s pretty much self-explanatory, right? And it’s a great time for parents take the time to think about their children’s weight, and whether they can be classified as overweight. In essence, this “celebration” of healthy weight can serve as a wake-up call to those who have small children.

In countless homes, both parents work full-time, often driving long distances, leaving much of the care of their children to others out of necessity. Also, with this economy, thousands of parents even need to have two jobs in order to be able to support their household.

How can these parent’s lives be characterized? In a word…rushed. Parents must rush to get ready in the morning…they need to scramble to pack a lunch for their children as well as for themselves. Then at the end of the day, they run to pick up the children, most of the time exhausted from a long day at work. The evening meal is then hurriedly prepared (or bought at a fast food joint).

If you are a parent of a pre-schooler yourself, you can see how this scenario can lead to increased weight gain in a young child. When children hurry through meals, not savoring the texture and taste of food, they often consume more calories than needed. And we all know that most meals offered at fast food places usually contain more calories that such a small child can burn off. Even the fact that the parents many times rush to pack lunches can cause weight gain. Consider a typical lunch for kids – peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread, potato chips, and cookies. Fast, but not very healthy.

To help combat weight gain from these unhealthy food choices, parents can take charge by pre-planning meals. It may be difficult at first, but once you have an arsenal of healthier food options under your belt, providing more nutritious (and less calorie dense) meals will become second nature.

Here are some handy tricks:

1. Determine what basic foods your child loves.
My children loved a type of baby food well into their pre-school years – prunes. I always had this vitamin-packed food on hand for a quick snack or as part of a meal. No, I’m not advocating keeping your child a baby, I’m merely asserting that if you find a healthy food your child loves – always have it available! It could be anything from oatmeal to bananas to wild rice.

2. Make extra food on the weekends.
Baking a favorite casserole on Saturday or grilling chicken on Sunday? Cook double for quick reheating during the week. Also, cut up carrots and celery for quick lunch additions.

3. Always have the ingredients for two or three healthy “go to” meals.
Most children have favorite meals that you can tailor to be fast and nutritious. For example, whole grain spaghetti noodles, pasta sauce, salad, and fresh fruit takes just minutes to prepare.

  1. Michele says:

    I found that serving a small amount of low calorie dip made raw vegetables much more appealing. If you have already cut up the veggies, as you suggested, they can be something that your kids nibble on while you prepare the rest of the meal. Doing this gets veggies into your kids’ diets, gives you a few more minutes to prepare dinner, and quiets the, “I’m hungry” comments.

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