A mother and her two young children are seen eating fresh vegetables.Kids, you love them. They bring you joy, laughter and, apparently, a higher rate of obesity. A study found that parents, by age 55, have an average body mass index in the obese range. A BMI of 30 and above is considered obese. People without children had an average BMI of between 25 and 29, which is considered overweight.

It’s not clear why people gain more than a family after having kids. Splitting time between work and kids makes it harder to schedule exercise. Other lifestyle changes may also lead to weight gain. Whatever the reason for the correlation, there are steps you can take to buck the trend.

Don’t Eat Your Kids’ Snacks

Do you carry children’s snacks everywhere you go? Many parents do. It’s a wise preemptive measure against hunger-induced crankiness. But what happens when it’s you and not your child who’s hungry? Does that fun-size morsel start calling your name? Tame the temptation by keeping your water within arms reach or using a stick of sugar free gum instead of your child’s food. If you are truly hungry (and it isn’t stress/head hunger), then keep a high protein option on hand such as beef jerky.

Many foods designed for children are loaded with sugar. When these treats are in your pantry, they can be hard to resist. Just like when you’re away from the house, make sure healthy foods are always available. When your kids sit down for a snack, if you’re hungry, join them with food appropriate for you.

Stay Mindful

Much of weight maintenance is dependent on self awareness of hunger and satiety cues. Knowing your fullness or satiety cue and not eating past that point is vital (even if it tastes good!). When eating with your child, fill your plate with the amount you plan to eat. Kids often leave food on their plates. Don’t get into the habit of finishing their leftovers. Save your child’s remaining food for later, or throw it away. Wasting food by tossing it is preferable to overeating. If your children are old enough, have them clear away their dishes so you don’t have to deal with the leftovers.

Seek Out Active Family Fun

If it’s hard for you to find time to workout on your own, do something active with your kids. You may be able to exercise in a park or on a school’s track while your children play nearby. Take a walk with your children. Join in their games when you go to the park. Ride bikes together. If your kids play sports, you may be able to use that time to walk or run while they practice.

Model Healthy Habits for Your Children

An offshoot of a healthy lifestyle is the good example you set for your children. If you’re trying to eat well and exercise, children will notice. They may not always want to eat the same foods as you, but encourage them to eat fresh, healthy snacks rather than processed, sweet foods. When you’re establishing good habits for yourself, you’ll also be teaching your kids about healthy food and activity.

 

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