Real Money: Taking stock of your family's health during American Diabetes Month
Tired of Halloween candy yet? Well, as you probably know, the dietary challenges are just beginning for many people around the country. Now that the holiday season is upon us, you may be wondering about how your waistline is going to handle all the food. As tempting it is to eat gobs of food and lay around on the couch, this behavior could have far reaching consequences: your child might copy you.
You're probably thinking what's wrong with indulging. And there isn't really anything wrong with indulging unless you do this all the time. Since young children tend to be impressionable though, thinking that it's okay to overeat - and unhealthy food on top of that - means there could be a risk for some pretty serious health issues long term if your children learn bad habits at a young age.
Are you serious?
Considering 1 in 7 youth between 6 and 17 years old are considered overweight, yes. Of course, having a little extra baby fat isn't a major concern, but if this is a result of unhealthy habits, then the chances of those children being susceptible to diseases increases.
So yes, laying around and eating junk food can have far-reaching consequences, especially when maintaining a poor diet and lack of physical activity become a habit. These consequences include increased risk of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Children who are overweight could also suffer from low self-esteem and are more likely to be hospitalized than children who have a healthy weight.
What's more, overweight children are more likely to become adults who are overweight, potentially leading to diseases like cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Who knew that the candy might be the scariest part of Halloween?
Before we start an unnecessary panic, know that we're not saying the occasional treat is a problem. Kids are kids, and it's okay for them (or anyone) to overindulge once in awhile. It's when the candy and sweets become a regular part of a person's diet that the problems start to surface.
What can I do?
I'm not a doctor, but I am a parent. And for me the simple answer is to encourage more physical activity into your child's daily routine as well as eating healthier diet. The reality is that it can be much harder to implement.
Instead of implementing a lot of things all at once, start small - in your home. As a family, you can all talk about what being healthy means and the benefits of that could look like. For example, it could mean being able to walk for a whole day around the zoo, or feeling less tired during the day. The important thing is to discuss this as an entire family so that everyone is more more motivated to make changes.
Something else to consider is to change your immediate environment. What this mean is setting visual cues to implement a healthy habit or eliminating vices from your home. For example, if you want your child to eat a better diet, start by eliminating sugary and highly processed foods from your pantry. It could also mean turning meal times into a fun event by teaching your child to cook using simple recipes so he or she understands what goes into each dish.
Also start small when it comes to implementing a better physical regimen. You and your family won't stick to something it means hours of strenuous activity - it's probably not a good idea to start off by signing everyone up for a half-marathon. Instead, start with simple stretches or walking to run errands instead of driving all the time.
No matter how you plan in integrating a healthier lifestyle, you want to make sure it works for you and your family. Again, we're not doctors, and don't mean to offer medical advice -- always check with a medical professional before making any diet and lifestyle changes. Making sure you get (FSA-eligible) preventive screenings with your doctor once a year so if there are potential issues, you can address them before it's too late.