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I was reading the latest issue of one of my parenting magazines when I came across an article on children and food. The author suggested offering dessert only two to three times a week instead of every day. I laughed aloud.
Today's parents struggle daily with their children. A typical meal for any child is usually laden with what should be dessert-only (occasional) ingredients, like lots of sugar, saturated fat, and abundant sodium. Dessert isn't the problem parents need to combat. The issue is much greater.
Various sources report that today's children will be the first generation to have a shorter lifespan than their parents, despite the progress of modern medicine and the prevalence of nutritional education. The diabetes statistics are staggering. In 2003 it was reported that for Caucasian children born after the year 2000, one in three will develop diabetes in his or her lifetime. African American, Hispanic, and American Indian children have a one in two chance.
As a society, we blame a myriad of people and situations for the obesity and diabetes epidemic: clever food advertising campaigns, genes, unhealthy school lunches, video games, lack of physical education classes, lavishing grandparents, high fructose corn syrup, specific ethnic cultural traditions, unregulated food industries, the Internet, and many other factors. But the truth is, eating and staying active are complicated. There are many factors that play into how and why and when parents eat, which of course trickles down to the next generation.
I've heard many parents say, "I buy the sugary cereals because it's all my children will eat." This reminds me of the bliss I encountered this summer at a local water park, where I would get into an inflated tube and float around in the cool water. That particular attraction is often referred to as the Lazy River--it's the easiest, least risky ride in the entire park. Likewise, parents all too easily give in to their children's begging and whining--taking the easier route for the sake of an few moments of peace. However, the easy route is leading to deadly diseases and early deaths.
So why not stand up and fight? Parents want what is best for their children, of course, but they often aren't sure how to combat the pressures of unhealthy foods and an inactive lifestyle. The parents themselves are often overwhelmed by their own busy lives, some barely staying afloat everyday.
I won't dare simplify the challenges parents face into an easy 1-2-3 solution. However, I do believe parents must do something. Here are ten practical steps parents can take to guide their children to make better choices so their children will live longer, healthier, happier lives.
Parents heavily influence their children and shape their beliefs, values, habits, and traditions. By choosing better, one day at a time, parents are offering their kids more than just an apple or a hiking partner. They are offering their children an abundant, healthy life.
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.