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Yesterday at the grocery store, I came across a child, who was about 8-years-old. She was lying on the floor flailing her arms and legs yelling “I want a chocolate bar.” I could have predicted the outcome. The child continued to scream until mom put a chocolate bar in the cart. The crying ceased instantly.

As they passed, I took note of the contents of the grocery cart – Coco Puffs cereal, soda, 3 bulk bags of potato chips, chocolate covered granola bars, macaroni & cheese, hot dogs…you get the drift. Try as I might I couldn’t help but feel scared for that child’s future.

I’m sorry I have to lay this responsibility on the parents, but kids only practice what you preach. If they see you eating poorly; they’ll follow suit.

Practice what you preach by adopting and enforcing family lifestyle changes:

• Explain the difference between healthy food choices and non-healthy food choices.
• Sit down and compile a weekly grocery list with your child.
• Let them go with you to the grocery store and shop only for the foods on the list.
• Get kids involved in preparing healthy meals, so they adopt healthy habits for life.
• It’s normal to shelter our kids from ridicule. However if your child is obese their health is at risk and tough love encouragement is needed, for example: “honey, you are overweight, but I believe in you and I’ll support you because I love you.”
• Never use food as a reward. Instead reward them with mini-golfing or baseball.
• Ditch the clean-plate policy. If your child is full, don’t force them to finish.
• Institute an open policy about food. Kids should be comfortable telling you when they’re hungry and not hungry without fear you’ll get mad.
• Don’t eliminate snacks. It will lead to lying and binge eating outside the home. Instead plan a cheat meal once a week when they’re allowed any foods they want.
• Encourage physical activity. It will get them up and out and encourage them to socialize with other active kids.
• Never allow eating in front of the TV. This encourages passive eating, and the child won’t concentrate on how much they’re eating or when they’re full.
• Limit TV or video games to 1 hour per day. The rest of the time, keep them busy with outdoor activities.

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