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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Teaching Healthy Habits

By Hansa Bhargava, MD

I’m a pediatrician, so I’m very aware of the importance of healthy lifestyles; but as a working mother, it can be really hard to find the time to put those goals into action. Most of the time, I can barely keep up with the homework, activities and meals. Recently my husband arranged for my son to start getting his lunches at school instead of bringing them from home. This would take one item off our to-do list, he reasoned.  Relieved to strike something off the list, I agreed.

After a few days, my son commented, “Mom, I really don’t like my school lunch.” When I asked him why, he said that there was too much sugar in it. That day he had been given a PBJ sandwich, a juice box, 2 brownies and applesauce. I was really surprised. And this was called a “healthy” lunch. So we called and asked to cut down the sugar. They did not do much better the next day— only gave him one brownie, and canned fruit in syrup, in addition to the juice box and PBJ. Hmmm, I thought, time to put “packing lunches” back on my list.

I was very pleased with my son’s ability to identify a not-so-healthy lunch. His knowledge of health had a real impact. I think that if we teach our kids healthy habits, hopefully they will become “health ambassadors”, identifying and taking action to make their lives better.

But I was a little bit disappointed in my son’s school. As parents, we’re trying to teach our kids to be healthy; it would be nice to have some support from the community to help us in our busy lives. I had a talk with the school staff that day.

As we recognize National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and look for ways to change our nation’s trends, this is a good lesson of the importance of communicating with and for our kids. By talking to our kids, we can teach them to recognize unhealthy foods & habits. And by advocating for our kids, hopefully we can make a difference in their community and schools.

For more information on how you can educate and support your child in developing healthy habits, visit Raising Fit Kids.

Posted by: Hansa Bhargava, MD at 2:31 pm

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