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In order to prevent the development of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents, it is necessary to shape their proper eating habits from an early age. How to "instill" a he althy lifestyle in children is explained to parents by Dr. Anna Januszewicz, a he alth psychologist from the Wrocław Branch of the SWPS University.

Overweightandobesityamongchildrenand adolescents is mainly due to the so-called environmental factors. The main culprit is poor nutrition. And yet a properly selected diet not only affects the child's body weight, but is also the basis for its proper psychophysical and intellectual development. Polish families are increasingly interested in he althy eating and a balanced lifestyle. But it is also more and more difficult for them to find themselves in the information chaos that reigns in this subject. How is it in the end - they wonder. Should you ban unhe althy foods or allow them to eat them from time to time? Should you eat chocolate once a week or more often? Or maybe it should be a reward for good grades in school? In Polish homes, there is a need to raise children to eat he althy, but Polish parents lack the ability to distinguish good practices from those that can lead to overweight and obesity.

Parent - don't talk, but act

What makes young people take care of their diet? It turns out that such factors are very specific. They were described in the results of the international research project TEMPEST (Temptations to Eat Moderated by Personal and Environmental Self-regulatory Tools) carried out in Poland by SWPS specialists. Young children are more dependent on their parents. They peek at them, or they openly observe them, and then they imitate them, they take over their everyday behavior. The older the child is, the more it gets inspired by the peer group. But, as has been proven, parents are still an important role model for teenagers. So, what are the parents' behaviors that are most important in the approach to he althy eating? A good example is the most important. It is not enough just to tell your child that a balanced diet is important. Long talk and speaking to the common sense of the offspring will be of little use. Real action, which can be a model, is the key. Parents should therefore: promote shared meals in a relaxed atmosphere,teach a food culture in which the awareness of responding to the physiological needs of the body prevails and discourage overeating. They should show the child that nutrition is a pleasant duty, thanks to which our body and mind function properly. The tables should therefore "reign" a variety of foods rich in vitamins and minerals, and meals should be eaten in peace. The type and quality of food you keep at home are also important. The rule is simple: we eat what's at hand more often. Therefore, you should avoid buying "junk" products, so that they do not tempt either adults or children.

Parent - do not act for the show

Unhe althy snacks are hard to resist. Promoting proper nutritional behavior in children cannot therefore be based on the fact that parents eat valuable products with them, and when they are out of their sight, they indulge their whims. It is important to teach your child self-control. And this can only be done by showing your child how to deal with food temptations. Adults should therefore use self-control strategies such as eating only a piece of chocolate and hiding the rest in the cupboard, or ending meals when full and not overeating. It is also good for parents to explain their behavior to the child. They will then know that it is worth taking one cookie instead of the whole package, because its contents will probably be "absorbed" quickly. He will also be able to refuse a snack when he is full.

Punishing gives nothing

But what if the older child has already developed the habit of poor nutrition? If parents take care to engage in he alth-promoting practices, it is necessary to discover where the problem is coming from. Maybe unhe althy products are popular among peers? Or someone from the family does not follow the parents' guidelines and offers the child sweets? The diagnosis of the problem is important in order to eliminate it. It is worth suggesting he althy behaviors to children, getting them interested in cooking or indicating a person who is important to them, who cares about a balanced diet. Parents need to find a balance between implementing the rules and respecting them, and accepting the pleasure of eating. Excessive pressure can have more negative effects than not having it. Restriction is not the best solution and does not help children to develop he althy habits.

And what are your proven ways to encourage your child to eat he althy? Any advice is valuable. Share it with other parents.

Important supports safe treatment and a dignified life of people suffering from obesity. This article does not contain discriminatory and stigmatizing contentfor obesity.

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