Giving your child the best start in life by leading a healthy and active lifestyle can help prevent childhood obesity and encourage them to continue a healthy lifestyle throughout adulthood. You can start by:
Providing a healthy relationship with food
Ensuring that your child enjoys a balanced diet from a young age will give them a healthy start in life. Weight is gained when more calories are eaten than used as excess calories are stored as body fat. Depending on their age and sex, children should be eating 1200-1800 calories per day. If you are in doubt about how many calories your child should consume, please visit the NHS website or ask your health visitor.
Fill your child’s plate with lots of fresh vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins such as chicken, fish or beans and pulses. Fibre-rich whole grains and lean proteins are not only packed full of goodness but will help your child stay fuller for longer.
When it comes to snack time, try clever swaps, such as swapping out processed and sugar-filled chocolate bars with homemade frozen yogurt for example. You can find a whole host of fun snack ideas here.
It is important for children to develop a positive relationship with food. In moderation, treats and snacks are a perfectly fine addition to an otherwise balanced diet. Overwhelming negative attitudes towards treats can actually be detrimental to your child’s health, both physically and mentally.
Increasing physical activity
Incorporating exercise into your family’s everyday life can help ensure that you and your family stay at a healthy weight whilst creating a positive attitude towards exercise. Going for lots of walks and enjoying the outdoors or doing activities like PE with Joe Wicks, for example, can help make exercise fun and less of a chore.
In addition to PE lessons in school, children should aim to have 60 minutes of moderate exercise per day.
This additional exercise could include:
- Walking to and from school
- Walking a dog
- Family walks/adventures
- Playing in the playground
If your child shows a particular interest in an activity or sport, there are also classes that they can join, including:
- Sports like football, netball, or tennis
- Skating or rollerblading
Talking to your children about what constitutes a healthy and balanced life in a simple way can help give them tools that will benefit them throughout life. Topics that you may want to cover with your child could include:
- What exactly calories are
- What different foods, vitamins, and minerals offer our bodies
- What foods make us feel fuller
- How sugar can affect our bodies
- The positive effects of exercise
Consider exposing your child to new and interesting foods at an early age or encouraging them to participate in cooking meals. By making healthy foods accessible to them, they will be more likely to choose the healthy option over junk foods.
Support for parents, babies, and young children in Merthyr Tydfil
- Would you like some support to give your child a healthy start?
- Do you wish your child would eat more fruit and vegetables?
- Would you like to reduce mealtime stress?
If you are a parent of a child that is younger than 5, you may benefit from HENRY. Henry is an 8-week program aimed at giving you tools and techniques to help you raise a healthy and happy child. Learn more about this program here.
If you would like to take part in Henry, you can email HENRY_CTM_PHW@wales.nhs.uk or call Shakira, the HENRY Programme Coordinator for Cwm Taf Morgannwg, on 07553 834 076.