Raising Healthy Kids!

There's no doubt about it to be fat in America is a disadvantage. We know that to be fat is a disadvantage health wise, but it's also a great disadvantage in our culture due to the tremendous stigmatism associated with extra weight

So what's a parent to do?

First, don't harass your child, that makes things worse. Your child is facing enough discrimination day in and day out, that the last thing you want to do is add to that with constant criticism, comments, and degradation.

What should you do?

You should choose health for your child and your family. The following efforts will help.

Reconsider Traditions and Routines
Many old time traditions are related to unhealthy activity. Switch it up and make the activities healthy. Consider a mountain climb over a party at the house, consider nonfat yogurt smoothies rather than an ice cream frappe, and think about a vacation adventure rather than just one of sitting and eating.

Make Time to Be Active with Your Child
Find activities that you and your child truly like to do together, and do those activities on a regular basis. Start easy with little to no pressure, and if you don't know what you like to do together try activities out. There's often a trial period for all kinds of activities and equipment so take advantage of that.

Comfortable, Attractive Clothing
It's often twice as difficult to find attractive, comfortable clothing for children who are heavy. Make the time to hunt around for the best stores and best clothing. Make sure that your child is comfortable and feels/looks attractive. The same goes for workout clothes--buy clothes that look good and are comfortable for movement. This is true for footwear too--comfortable, supportive, attractive shoes matter.

Healthy Kitchens
Stock the kitchen with healthy options. Shop at stores that offer lots of healthy alternatives. Stop buying and serving unhealthy foods as there are so many healthy, delicious substitutes today.

Plant a Garden
Having fresh, garden fruits and vegetables right outside your door or at a nearby public garden means you'll be serving fresh greens, veggies, and fruits daily.

Don't Talk about Weight
Too many people spend too much time putting themselves down, criticizing others, and talking about weight. Instead talk about health, recreation, interests, and passions. If you're in a party that starts to discuss weight in negative ways, leave the discussion.

Build Your Child Up
Work with your child to find the groups, activities, places, and people that they feel most comfortable with. Choose groups that challenge and nurture your children in positive ways. Help your child to steer clear from groups or people that put them down and make them feel low.

Healthy, Active, Positive Jobs
Don't let your child take or keep a job that's unhealthy and inactive. Instead help your child find positive jobs with good people and lots of positive activity.

Join a Gym
With the money you save from unhealthy food and activity, join a gym. Many health programs will support gym membership in part. Shop around for a gym that fits your family's schedule, interests, and needs. Make sure it's a place you feel comfortable in. Most gyms offer a free week to try it out. Do that first during a week when you have time to truly try out what the gym has to offer.

Rethink the Budget
Look at how you spend money through the lens of health. What do you spend money on often that's unhealthy, and what do you spend money on that's healthy. I bet you'll find that you're spending unnecessary dollars on unhealthy activity, and that you can use those dollars for healthy endeavor.

Advocate for Healthy Organizations
Support the best of what your organizations can be. For schools support efforts towards healthy food, lots of positive activity, and inclusive attitudes and respect toward all members.

Create Motivational Playlists
Get a digital device and headphones that can be used during exercise, and encourage your child to create playlists of songs, videos, stories, and talks that motivate healthy activity.

Track Your Calories and Nutrients
Free apps like My Fitness Pal (http://www.myfitnesspal.com) are a great way to track food and learn about what you're eating too.

Study the Foods You Eat
There is so much good information out there about food today, it's best to take the time to study what you eat. What you once thought healthy, may not be, and what you never considered as healthy, may be.

Today I was at the gym. I watched an average weight mom coach her two overweight daughters. One daughter, in particular, was frustrated and already hurt by our culture's attitude toward overweight children. I wanted to talk with her, but that would have been out of line.  I wanted her to have better clothes for exercise and less of her mother's negativism. I wanted to talk with her about the playlist that motivates her best exercise, what she likes to do, and about her aspirations for life. In a sense, I wanted to lift her up because I could feel just how difficult her situation was.

In my classroom, I won't let children put down others with regard to weight and/or any physical features. I say "You can talk about your own body if you want, but it's not your business to talk about someone else's body." Just like the way I treat bias with regard to gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, athleticism, learning challenges, I foster respect and acceptance of all body types, and advocate for school programs that are inclusive, healthy, and uplifting.

As a young girl, I faced some prejudice about my size. I know how it hurts. Still today I face prejudice, and it's a lot harder to detangle all those feelings, expectations, and judgements as you get older. It's best to start early by helping children to be as healthy as they can be in positive, proactive ways in our homes and schools. Don't you agree?

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