Courtesy Nohelia SiddonsWith a growing obesity epidemic in children, fitness expert Nohelia Siddons recommends discovering what motivates our kids in order to find new and fun ways to encourage healthy habits.
Nutrition: How can parents make eating healthy an appealing choice?
· Play with your food!: Make meal time fun. Be creative when putting dinner together; try making animal shapes or funny objects; make "carritos" (or cars) out of a piece of lowfat cheese with a piece of fruit or vegetable on top. Siddons likes to play "Who's the biggest rabbit" with her 5 year- old son: whoever eats the most veggies at dinner, wins.
· Cook with your child: Involve your children in the food preparation process. Not only will they learn new skills, they will also relate food and cooking to a good family memory.
· Make smart choices in restaurants: Pick the healthier items on the menu for yourself and your child, and enjoy what you eat during your time together. Make it an opportunity to introduce new foods and have fun. Don't become the "food police"!
Fitness: Parents and kids playing together should spell f-u-n!
What can parents do to motivate their children to be more physically active? For starters, we know that kids want to move, so let them be kids. Siddons recommends getting kids to participate in activities that are age-appropriate. In other words, "move" according to their size. And whatever you do, don't let them get comfortable on that couch!
Game ideas for younger children
· Get a ball and play outside
· Play outdoor games like "hide and seek"
· If stuck indoors, play "fight like a pirate": don hats and bandanas and play-fight with soft, plastic swords, running around the house.
· Shoot basketball hoops, pitch a softball and have your child try to hit it
· Run around at a favorite park
Activities for older children
At this stage, pre-teens prefer to spend time with their friends, but make sure you get to know them and their parents first.
· Plan a beach outing and encourage the kids to play volleyball, hacky sack or any other activity that will keep them moving once out of the water.
· Invite the kids to go bowling with their friends
Nohelia Siddons is a Venezuelan-born family and children fitness trainer based in Miami, FL. She is the founder of "Move with Nohelia": The Child Obesity Movement for the Latin Community. Her passion for children's health and fitness has led her to become a voice for families within the Latin community by bringing awareness to the child obesity epidemic. For more information, visit her page http://www.fitnessandmind.com/.