By: Michelle Swader, Dietitian
Here are a few additional ways to help your child stay at a healthy weight and prevent the onset of diabetes at a young age. Read Part One: How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes in Children for additional information on preventing diabetes in children.
Physical Activity: Being physically active plays a large role in the health and growth of children. It has many physical, social and mental benefits, and the healthy effect of exercise continue for hours after the activity is complete. The American Academy of Sports Medicine recommends 30-60 minutes of moderate physical activity per day for children. If your child is not getting the amount of activity he or she should, here are some tips:
• Team sports can foster confidence and teamwork, and it can range from soccer to baseball to swimming.
• Get involved! Families that are active together create quality family time, and it’s a great opportunity for parents to model healthy behaviors, and get some physical activity of their own!
• Keep it fun! Hiking in the woods, biking, skateboarding and dancing are some great ways to get some physical activity into your day.
• Start slow and explore. If your child is starting and activity for the first time, overwhelming them with too much commitment or level of difficulty can turn them off. Keep in mind that you may need to try several different activities to fun the ones that your child will want to keep doing…hopefully for the rest of their lives!
Healthy Outlook: Focusing on a variety of foods, using seasonal foods, learning about portions sizes and cooking at home can help keep a healthy relationship with food. Having kids involved in the shopping and cooking, as much as they can, can help empower them to try new foods and can prevent unhealthy attitudes about eating and fear of certain foods.
Children should learn how to choose their own healthy diet, and why it’s important, but they should also learn that no one can be perfect all the time, and there are times and places for special treats. Having a healthy but realistic attitude towards food and exercise will help you and your family enjoy your healthy lifestyles.