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Studies show that gradual changes resulting in lifestyle changes will bring lasting success. So we're going to discuss some simple steps you can take that will help your family get on the path to a healthy lifestyle.

Studies show that gradual changes resulting in lifestyle changes will bring lasting success. So we're going to discuss some simple steps you can take that will help your family get on the path to a healthy lifestyle.

Love and Acceptance
First of all, let your children know they are loved unconditionally by God and by you. In a society that says otherwise, children need to understand that their self-worth is not wrapped up in how they look or how much they weigh.

Talk to them about who they are in Christ and assure them He has good plans for their lives. Focus on giving your children the faith, encouragement and confidence they need to become successful in life.

Fast Food Out—Fruits and Veggies In
You can help your child become healthier by providing healthy snack choices and balanced meals. A child's diet should include all of the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for vitamins, minerals and protein, and contain the major food groups.

Foods should be low in calories only, not in essential nutrients.

Have your children begin each day with a good breakfast. Among other things, it has been proven to help with weight loss.

Then aim toward giving your children at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. If they are presently eating two servings of fruit daily, add one vegetable a day this week, and perhaps an additional piece of fruit the next. Gradually change their diet.

Of course, healthy eating requires keeping low-fat sandwich meats, whole-grain bread, fruits and veggies on hand. It's a good idea to make sure tasty snack choices are always available so your kids won't feel deprived.

(A few of my favorites are frozen bananas, baby carrots, string cheese, apple slices with peanut butter and dill pickles.)

Another simple way to prevent your children from gaining weight is to limit the amount of fast food they eat. It should come as no surprise that eating fast food has been linked with weight gain. Not only is it typically low in nutrition and fiber, it is also high in fat, sodium and calories.

Keep in mind that the more healthy foods your children consistently eat, the healthier they will want to eat—eventually. That may be hard to believe but Hebrew 5:14 says "those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."

By gradually replacing unhealthy foods with healthy foods, their senses will become trained to prefer what is good!

"Ditch the Fizz"
Limiting soft drinks in your child's diet will radically cut down on calories.

A Harvard University study of children over the past 15 years revealed that soft-drink consumption is related to the dramatic rise in obesity. They discovered that children who daily drink at least eight ounces of a soft drink tend to also eat more food. So not only do they get 140 empty calories from the beverage, but they also consume additional calories by eating more.

The reason for this is not definitive. It could be due to the fact that sugared drinks cause a rise in insulin, which causes more hunger, resulting in an increase in food consumption. Or, it may be that the reason children eat more when drinking soft drinks is that those who show no restraint in drinking soft drinks also have no restraint in eating.

Studies have also shown that if soft drinks are part of a child's daily diet, not only are they fatter but they are also presumably more likely to develop diabetes later in life.

So parents, "ditch the fizz" as researchers at the Bournemouth Diabetes and Endocrine Centre in southern England say. Their study found that just cutting down on carbonated drinks limited children's obesity rates.

Keep appealing alternatives to soft drinks and sugared beverages readily available. Here are a few suggestions:
  • Have 100 percent all natural juices on hand rather than sugared juice drinks
  • Let your children mix sparkling water with fruit juice for a fun drink
  • Keep individual bottles of water and flavored waters in the fridge
  • Pack bottled water in lunchboxes, gradually increasing the frequency
Your children simply cannot be healthy without drinking enough water. Among other things, water helps cleanse the body and is necessary for fat loss.

A good goal would be to divide your child's body weight in half and encourage them to drink that many ounces of water a day—more when they're in the sun, exercising or sweating.

The Lord desires for us to be blessed and healthy in every area of our lives. I know you desire the same thing for your children. So as you look toward the weeks and months ahead, I would encourage you to begin taking steps to give your family a gift they can benefit from for the rest of their lives—a healthy lifestyle and a higher level of fitness.

Copyright © 2004 Higher Fitness
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Marty Copeland
Web site: Marty Copeland
Marty Copeland is a wife, mother of 3, a Master Personal Trainer and Nutritional Guidance Counselor. Most importantly, she is here, doing this, because she has experienced first hand that God not only desires to help us reach our health and fitness goals, but He has the perfect plan that will lead us to a lifestyle of freedom and self-control. She has come to know that true health is more than just having a strong and healthy body-though that is something we should all enjoy. True health also includes a strong spirit and soul. It is when our spirits are full and our minds are strong that living a healthy lifestyle becomes easy.

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