With an obesity epidemic rocking the developed nations of the world, and with children being less physically active now than ever before in history, there are some good reasons for any responsible parent to feel concerned about the health of their children in the contemporary cultural climate.
As obesity — particularly among children — is correlated with various undesirable health issues, not to mention the psychological and lifestyle impacts that are part and parcel of being overweight, it’s very important to take a proactive hand in keeping your kids’ weight within a healthy range.
But if extreme crash dieting and over-training in the gym for the sake of weight loss are bad for adults (and they absolutely are) they have the ability to ruin the health and development of children completely.
Instead of resorting to such drastic measures, the key is to abide by sensible dietary principles that are associated with maintaining a healthy weight.
Here are some simple dietary recommendations for keeping your child at a healthy weight.
Eliminate any processed foods
The gurus and proponents of the myriad different leading diet trends don’t agree on much, but they do all pretty much agree on this one point, along with scientific health researchers:
Processed foods are bad for you.
Whether it’s the amount of processed sugar found in certain foods, or the form that sugar takes (high fructose corn syrup, in particular, is known to be particularly harmful and correlated with obesity), or the presence of trans fats, or potentially inflammatory vegetable oils, or any number of other additives — the more processed a food has been, the less you should be giving it to your children.
Processed food doesn’t just mean takeaway pizza and fizzy drinks, either. It also means store-bought fruit juice, bread bought in a plastic bag instead of from a baker (have a look at the ingredients lists on most of these, you’ll be shocked), and anything which you haven’t prepared at home.
Serve up plenty of fibre
Various research has found correlations between higher fibre intake and reduced risk of obesity, while other research has found evidence that a high fibre diet is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, as well as potential increases in satiety.
High fibre foods include traditional whole grains, but also fibrous vegetables such as leeks. Just be sure your child isn’t getting their fibre from highly-processed, sugary breakfast cereals.
High fibre diets have also been associated with healthier gut bacteria, which is a great benefit in and of itself.
Include probiotic foods
Probiotic foods are those foods which increase the amount and variety and “good bacteria” occupying your gut.
A healthy gut microbiome has been associated with a reduced risk of obesity, with experiments on twins showing that gut microbiome could be the factor causing one twin to gain fat, while the other remained lean, on the same diet.
A healthy gut microbiome is also associated with better health and mood overall.
Probiotic foods are, as a rule, fermented foods. Kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, blue cheese. If your child can’t stomach these, a high-powered probiotic supplement can work wonders too.
This post is a collaborative effort by St. Louis Dad.