This month, we observe National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. At Long Island Foot & Ankle Group, PC, we want to help children and families understand the connection between obesity and your feet. Being overweight puts extra strain on your feet, ankles and knees. The extra weight also greatly increases your risk for many foot conditions that our podiatrists, Dr. Russell Caprioli, Dr. Mary Ann Bilotti, Dr. John Haight or Dr. Marzana Mleczko treat every day. There are many ways to help children maintain a healthy weight (or lose weight if they are overweight) now. Children will follow the example set by their parents, so make a healthy lifestyle a family goal—you’ll all benefit!
Grocery Store Games—take your children with you to the grocery store one day and let your trips up and down the aisles be a lesson in healthy eating.
Teach your child how to read the nutrition labels. Show them where the sugar and fat are recorded and talk about acceptable numbers. Encourage them to compare products—even a healthy food like tomato sauce is available with 6 grams of sugar or 12 per serving.
Explore the produce aisle. Increasing the amounts of fruits and vegetables to your diet while decreasing less healthy foods is an essential component of making over your diet. Let kids pick out new items to try and find fun ways to prepare them.
Find lower fat versions of dairy items. Milk, cheese and yogurt all contain calcium which is essential for building strong bones. You can increase the healthfulness of these foods, however, by choosing low or non-fat versions.
Change for the Better—gradually introduce healthy swaps in your family’s diet:
Water instead of sugary sports drinks, sodas and juices
Frozen yogurt, low-fat granola bars and fruit in place of cookies, ice cream and other desserts—save the sweets for special occasions like birthdays and other celebrations
Crunchy veggies and baked chips with hummus or yogurt dip in place of high-fat chips and dips
Let’s Get Physical—hand in hand with reducing calorie intake is increasing calorie expenditure:
Add more steps to daily life by parking the car further from the store, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, etc.
Find new leisure activities that can be enjoyed as a family: hikes to local parks, bike rides, kayaking. Get your children’s input on what they’re interested in doing.