Just Not Enough Time for Healthy Food or Exercise?
“It’s an important question for American families and the nation as a whole: Why do so many kids weigh too much?” was the opening line on a piece the other day on NPR.
One in every three American kids is overweight or obese was the first shocking statistic referred to; shocking not because it was surprising, but shocking because it was not.
NPR recently conducted a poll with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, focusing on what happens in American households during the hours between school and bedtime, which they subsequently referred to as ‘crunch time’.
While most parents or care givers said it’s important that their child eats and exercises in a way to maintain a healthy weight, more than half of children ate or drank something during the “crunch time” window that can lead to unhealthy weight gain.
It went on to discuss common reasons and rationale for allowing this trend to continue: not enough time to prepare healthy meals, the ease of serving kids (and the whole family, for that matter) frozen, processed, pre-packaged meals, the perception that preparing vegetables is difficult, the cost of buying fresh produce vs fast food, lack of time to exercise…
We need to stop making excuses, and fast. We have to cease thinking of eating real food and moving as anything other than a number one priority for ourselves and our children.
What if you truly cannot find the time?
- Get everyone involved. Too busy at work? Why not engage your teen children to help prepare dinner and even go grocery shopping if they’re old enough to drive? Have the younger ones help chose recipes and help with easy kitchen tasks. Let siblings alternate choosing who gets to do what to help with the snack and dinner prep.
- Draw out a family calendar to really see who’s doing what, and when, and subsequently where you can carve out some time to get healthy shopping and cooking on the schedule.
- Lead by example and make sure you’re eating right and moving, then get everyone else to come along. Family hikes, walks around the blocks or treks on the local trails are just a few examples of modalities of activity that all can participate in. We are physical beings and we are supposed to be in motion.
Need extra motivation? How about the concept that you’re not only making your lives, and your kids’ lives better now, you’re saving them lots of cost, both physically and financially in the long run.
Things are only going to get worse if we keep trending as we are right now.