If the weight gain trend continues, as it has the past 30 years, more than 86 percent of U.S. adults will be overweight or obese by 2030, according to researchers.
And the problem expands even to children. According to a new national poll, childhood obesity is now the No. 1 health concern for kids in 2008, topping smoking and drug abuse. So what’s a family to do?
It starts with focusing on gradually changing your family’s physical activity and eating habits. Get the whole family involved and teach everyone healthful habits to work into a new, healthier lifestyle.
But you don’t have to make physical activity a chore, and all goodies don’t have to be banned. Instead, look for creative ways for your whole family to move more every day and help everyone make better food choices.
Here are a few simple ways to increase your family’s physical activity and develop healthier eating habits:
• Be a role model. If your children see you being active and having fun, they’re more likely to be active — and to stay active for the rest of their lives. Conversely, if your kids see you plopped on the couch eating chips in front of the TV most of the time, that’s the habit they’ll develop, too.
• Center entertainment around physical activities rather than the entertainment center. Exercise and enjoyment can go hand in hand when you do things together like walking, dancing, biking, hiking or swimming. Start a new habit of taking a walk together after dinner rather than heading for the TV or video games.
• Create activity challenges. Buy a pedometer for everyone in the family and see who can get the most steps in each day. Family competition is healthy! Park further away from stores, restaurants or school so you can walk more. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. And use breaks at work or school to take a quick walk.
• Start by making small changes to your family’s diet like drinking one less soda a day or skipping the mayo and cheese on your burgers. Investigate how to make your favorite recipes with fewer calories and fat. These little changes make a huge impact over time.
• Purge your pantry of junk food. Instead, leave bowls of fruit on the counter, and keep healthy grab-n-go snacks handy. Some ideas are low-fat string cheese, cut-up apples with peanut butter dip, or a handful of nuts. If you must have some cookies or crackers on hand, buy the portion-controlled 100-calorie packs. That will teach the whole family what 100 calories looks like and limit opportunities to wolf down a full-size bag of cheese curls.
• Watch the liquid calories. Sometimes we think we’re giving our kids something healthier than soda by offering them juice. But those can be packed with sugar and calories, too. Opt for water or low-fat milk instead.
• Build in some wiggle room. It’s unrealistic to say you’ll never have a certain food ever again. You should limit indulgent foods, but you don’t have to eliminate them completely — otherwise you’ll feel deprived and may binge later. And your kids will start sneaking the “forbidden” foods.
• Follow a healthy menu by boosting the amount of fruits and vegetables in your family’s diet and consuming small amounts of lean meat, fish, healthy fats and whole grains. Stay away from refined grains, full-fat dairy products and foods with added sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup.
For adults, Reliv’s Slimplicity® Weight Loss System is a great way to jumpstart a healthier lifestyle. The plan includes a food diary, exercise journal, pedometer and more, along with a delicious, filling meal replacement shake and Accelerator capsules to boost your weight loss efforts.