Kids with high blood pressure? When I was growing up you never heard the words “kids” and “high blood pressure” in the same sentence. But just a month ago, the Centers for Disease Control released findings that show that American children eat as much salt as adults – about 1,000 milligrams too much!* Of course this salt intake has been linked to high blood pressure in children. Unfortunately, high blood pressure, obesity diabetes and a whole host of other issues continue to plague African American adults and children at a rate higher than the general population. So how can a mom encourage her children to be healthier without launching World War IV over a box of chicken nuggets?
In my personal quest for better health for myself and my family, I’ve started doing a few subtle things to promote healthy living:
Model the change I want to see. I can’t complain about my family’s eating habits and couch potato ways if I’m not practicing what I preach. Instead of ranting about how many bags of chips the family is going through, I’ve started publicly munching on fruit and taking powerwalks. Suddenly I’ve been hearing “Mommy, can I have a bite of that apple?” and “Mom, can I go with you on your walk?”
No soda. I’ve made lots of dietary mistakes with my family, but there is one thing that I’ve always been proud of. My daughter was never introduced to soda. By allowing her to only drink milk, water and limited amounts of juice, I’ve helped reduce her sugar intake.
“Mommy and Me” walk times. My daughter absolutely loves one-on-one time. Whenever possible, I try to incorporate activity into our times together. A Saturday morning walk in the park has become one of my daughter’s favorite weekend activities. She willingly turns off the TV or puts down the iPad for a brisk walk with mama.
Less piggy “pig outs”. I try to keep my family eating balanced meals during the week. But like most families, we’re all about the weekend “pig outs.” Wings, popcorn, pizza – you name it. But I’ve subtlety started making our Saturday night pig outs just a little less piggy. Deep dish pizza has become thin crust pizza with veggie toppings and a side salad. Buttery popcorn has been thrown out for a less sodium-packed option. Amazingly, I haven’t heard any complaints from the family!
The great thing is most of the changes I’ve made have been so minor that the family hasn’t even noticed. But it feels great knowing that the gift of better health that I’m promoting will have a lasting impact with my family.
MommyNoire friends, how are you promoting better health within your families?
*Centers for Disease Control (see study referenced here: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/09/17/us-children-are-eating-too-much-salt-cdc-researchers-say/)
Yolanda Darville is a mom, writer, communications strategist and blogger focusing on philanthropy and empowering women. Learn more about her on her blog www.bahamamommyinc.com .