kids healthy lifestyle
Many of our patients at
Birmingham Minimally Invasive come to us wanting to get healthier for their families. Moms and dads want to be able to play with their kids, and through gastric sleeve surgery and our other weight loss surgery options, many people achieve this goal.

Getting healthier serves as a positive example for children, which is important since today many kids are overweight or obese. If you focus on becoming healthier yourself, you can then turn your attention to making sure your entire family is leading a healthy lifestyle.

We know it’s hard though. You are busy, kids are busy. During this time of back to school, life gets even busier. But a healthy, active lifestyle can help keep kids at an appropriate weight, while also preventing health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and high blood pressure.

Creating healthy habits for your family

The earlier you can create healthy habits, the better. Children imitate their parents, so it’s important to set a good example. And being an example is the key. You don’t want to make kids feel bad about their weight or focus on it too much as this can create self-esteem issues that may take root at a young age and progressively get worse over time. But if your family has always been active and eaten healthy foods, it will naturally be good for their health, including their weight.

This all sounds great, but how exactly do you accomplish it? What does it look like practically to lead your family in a healthy lifestyle? What should you focus on the most as kids go back to school?

Here are several things to think about.

  • It starts with what you buy. If you buy junk food, your family will eat junk food. If you buy healthy foods, that’s what they will eat instead. Your shopping cart should be full of healthy foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables and whole-grain items. We do not recommend purchasing or serving kids low-fat foods since they may contain unhealthy added ingredients, including added sugar. 
  • Actually pay attention to portion sizes. If you have been overweight or obese, you may have eaten portions in your past life that were much too large. It may even be that your parents served you portions that were too large. Resist the urge to give kids portions that are too big. Read the nutrition facts label and serve the appropriate amount. If a child asks for more carrots or apples, it may be fine to serve seconds, but for many types of foods, they may not need more.
  • Eating meals together as a family really does matter. Especially on busy school mornings or evenings, it may be easier to serve children their meals at different times or in front of the TV but resist the urge to go this route. Eating together has many important benefits related to health and nutrition, but it’s also a time to connect and communicate.
  • Think about what they drink. In our society, juice and sodas are the norms for many families. But these types of beverages should be limited or not offered, especially for kids. Instead, fill reusable bottles with water and serve a glass of milk with meals at home. Children should not drink diet beverages of any kind. 
  • Focus on fueling their bodies. This may vary by child depending on what activities they are involved in throughout the day, but every child needs a nutritious, filling breakfast. This will refuel their body after a long night, and provide energy to help them get through their day. If your child has snacks throughout the day, send something that will also help refuel them. For example, a candy bar or packet of cheese crackers will not do them much good, but fruit, nuts, cheeses, and peanut butter will help keep them going longer.

Other ways to encourage kids to be healthy

While what your children eat is very important, there are many other factors that go into a healthy lifestyle for you and your family. Getting enough sleep and not having too much screen time each day are factors to consider as well, and physical activity is tied to both of these.

Physical activity should be part of your family’s daily routine. Kids may be involved in sports or other activities at school, and you may go to the gym to work out every day. But you should also make time to be active together. Maybe this is a family walk or bike ride in the evenings. Maybe this looks like running around and playing games in your yard after dinner. 

Find what works for you and prioritize this time of physical activity. It will mean that kids are spending less time on screens, and it will also help their bodies feel tired and ready for a good night’s sleep at the end of the day. 

We always love seeing parents who want to get healthier for their families. We encourage you to focus on yourself first if you need to, and weight loss surgery may be the answer. When it comes to diet plans, exercise plans, and the entire recovery process, we will be with you every step along the way.