It’s both shocking and worrying that one in four children in Ireland are overweight or obese and it is past time that we all played our part to change that.
The current childhood obesity trend – coupled with the fact that one in ten Irish adults are currently obese – will culminate in Ireland being officially branded the ‘fattest nation in Europe’ by 2025.
The reality of that picture gives rise to a feeling of dread for medical professionals who see the future each time they measure an overweight child. They see the beginnings of diabetes, sleep apnoea, heart problems, high blood pressure, joint disease, some cancers, low self-esteem and a host of other weight-related problems.
Obese children are likely to continue being dangerously overweight into adulthood and as a result are “more likely to develop a variety of health problems”, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
According to reports it’s quite often the case that parents of obese children are also worryingly overweight but many don’t realise the dangers nor want to.
It’s up to us as parents to take bull by the horns and ensure we are armed with the knowledge to help our children form the right habits from a relatively young age. By taking simple steps to help influence those habits we are protecting our children from a lifetime of battling the bulge.
The actions we take early on in our children’s lives will lay the ground for what comes later.
I’ve selected five key steps which can help beat the worrying projections of childhood obesity. It’s worth noting that the WHO states that “a focus on small but permanent changes in eating may work better than a series of short-term changes that can’t be sustained”.
It’s important to promote at every opportunity the benefits of clean eating. Encouraging smarter food choices when hunger strikes your little ones is a much more beneficial course of action. Introducing simple changes one at a time is a recipe for success in healthy eating.
Lead by example by eating plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole-grain products, and by providing them for your children. Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils and beans for protein.
Serve reasonably sized portions to ensure your children are both adequately fed and to stave off cravings for snacks.
It’s is vitally important to ensure kids drink lots of water. It’s also important to limit the intake of sugar or sugar/sweetened drinks, sodium and saturated fat.
Encourage your kids to enjoy plenty of physical activity and help them understand why it’s so important to get active. The WHO states that the children and teens should participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity each and every day. Again, leading by example is a great way to encourage your children to get active. Add some physical activity to your daily routine and encourage your little one to join in – this could be walking, playing ball games, dancing, swimming, playing tag around the house or anything that gets your bodies moving. It’s important to promote activities which your kids will really enjoy and want to engage in regularly. Kids are almost wholly preoccupied with the ‘fun factor’ so when the ‘boring’ alarm sounds, do the smart thing and try an alternative activity.
Time spent in front of a screen, whether it’s a TV, phone, tablet or computer monitor should be strictly limited. It’s notable that in the US, paediatric experts don’t recommend TV for kids age 2 or younger. Unless it’s necessary for learning, screen time should be limited as much as possible.
When planning a family attaining a healthy weight can be important to your child’s future. When parents are a healthy weight, children are more likely to be. Pregnancy may not be a good period to attempt weight loss but it’s beneficial to take steps to avoid unnecessary weight gain. Breastfeeding is recommended by the WHO to beat childhood obesity as breastfed infants are more likely to be a healthy weight when they reach school-going age.
It’s recommended that solid foods not be given to babies until they are six months old as breast milk or infant formula contains all of the nutrients a baby needs.
Encourage your children to get the sleep they need to help beat weight gain. Regularly getting enough sleep will help your child to attain a healthy weight. The body’s blood sugar levels may be better controlled with good sleeping patterns.
Experts recommend that new born babies from (0-3 months) receive 14 to 17 hours, not less than 11 hours and not more than 19 hours in any 24-hour period.
It is recommended that infants (4-11 months) get 12 to 15 hours, not less than 10 hours or more than 18 hours.
Toddlers (1-2 years) – 11 to 14 hours, not less than 9 hours or more than 16 hours.
Preschoolers (3-5 years) – 10 to 13 hours, not less than 8 hours or more than 14 hours
School-aged Children (6-13 years) – 9 to 11 hours, not less than 7 hours or more than 12 hours.
Teenagers (14-17 years) – 8 to 10 hours, not less than 7 hours or more than 11 hours
Young Adults (18-25 years) – 7 to 9 hours, not less than 6 hours or more than 11 hours.
For further information on how you can help beat obesity in your home by boosting whole food nutrition please get in touch.
2 2-liter bottles of ginger ale
46 ounces of canned pineapple juice
64 ounces of white grape juice
Combine in a large punch bowl and garnish with frozen ice ring, if desired. Be sure to serve in champagne flutes! (40 servings)
1 part Grenadine
4 parts Orange Juice
4 Parts Pineapple juice
Mix all ingredients and serve over ice. Garnish with an orange round and pineapple chunk. (1 serving)
2 cups cranberry juice
1 cup orange juice
1 cup pineapple juice
1 4-ounce jar maraschino cherries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
12 ounces of ginger ale
Combine all ingredients except ginger ale into large pitcher. Before serving, add ginger ale and gently stir. Garnish glasses with cherries and orange rounds. (8 servings)
2 large strawberries with stems removed
1/4 club white sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup chilled lemon-lime soda
4 ice cubes
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a daiquiri glass and serve. Don’t forget the strawberry for garnish and the paper umbrella! (1 serving)
1 teaspoons sugar
1/2 of a lime, cut into pieces
6 mint leaves
1/2 ounce of simple syrup
Crush and mix lime slices, mint, and sugar with a muddler or the back of a spoon in a 12 ounce drinking glass. Add ice to fill cup until it is about ¾ full. Add simple syrup and top off with club soda and stir. Raw sugar cane makes a fun garnish if you can get your hands on some! (1 12-ounce serving)
5 ounce blue fruit punch drink (like Kool Aid or Hawaiian Punch)
1 ounce coconut milk
1 ounce pineapple juice
1 ounce ginger ale
Combine all ingredients into a shaker and strain into a daiquiri glass or halfed coconut. Garnish with pineapple slice and a cherry. Don’t forget the straw!
1 part coconut concentrate
2 parts fresh squeezed lemon juice
5 parts pineapple juice
5 parts orange juice
5 parts grapefruit juice
15 parts sugar syrup
Add all ingredients to a blender or a shaker. Pour into highball glass with 203 ice cubes. Garnish with orange slice and lemon slice. (1 serving)
1 cup blueberries and blackberries
1 cup soda water
2 tablespoons of honey or sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Blend all ingredients and blend on medium. Pour into a highball glass and garnish with berries. (12-ounce serving)
1/2 cup lemonade
1 ounce Italian pomegranate syrup
2 teaspoons lime juice
Shake ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled half way with ice. Strain into two chilled martini glasses and serve.
1 part grenadine syrup
4 parts pineapple juice
4 parts orange juice
4 parts grapefruit juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker or blender briefly. Strain into a highball glass and garnish with fresh fruit and a straw. (1 serving)
Whipping up a fun, refreshing drink can be as easy as adding your favorite non-alcoholic bubbles to your juice of choice, or combining more than once juice with a sweet syrup and some ice. And, be sure to use a fun drinking glass! Whether you follow these recipes here or do your own creative bartending, there’s no doubt that you’ll be reaching for a refill long after your baby joins the outside world and you’re no longer breastfeeding!
Memory-training exercises? Sure—or you could meditate/visualize/yoga your way to improved cognition, according to a small study of older adults.
Meditation curbs activity in the brain’s amygdala, which helps govern anxiety, stress, and anger. Translation? You’re less likely to wig the hell out.
In one study, eight weeks of mindfulness-based stress reduction tempered tummy turbulence by a whopping 26.4 percent.
Mindfulness stokes self-control and—by helping you distance yourself from cravings—robs Boston cream pie of its dastardly allure.
Meditation turns on the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, the flip side of fight-or-flight. Heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension decrease—and umbrella-drink mode kicks in.
After a six-week meditation workshop, insomniacs felt better rested and less depressed—probably because they were better rested and less depressed.
Multiple studies have shown that mindfulness, yoga, and deep breathing have a chilling effect on hot flashes.
Eight weeks of mindfulness training for nearly five months of relief? Sign us up!
When Buddhist monks practiced compassion meditation while having their brains scanned—we’ve all done that, right?—they showed increased neural activity related to empathy.
These mini breakfast pizzas will soon become a family favorite. You can hard-cook eggs in advance and store unpeeled in the refrigerator for a week, which will shave off plenty of prep minutes in the morning.
Layering the ingredients in a pretty glass will make your kids think they’re eating dessert, not breakfast. They’ll get a much-needed dose of calcium and a big energy boost to start off their day.
There’s no need for fast-food breakfast sandwiches when you can prepare this upscale version in just 15 minutes.
Liven up a boring breakfast by creating faces out of healthy ingredients. Better yet, give the little ones an assortment of vegetables and let them play with their food.
Children will gobble up these not-quite-green eggs and ham. It’s much easier to put together than an omelet but packs in the same flavors.
Kids will love this fun take on eggs and toast. Rounded out with yogurt and fruit, this breakfast is a well-balanced meal.
A refreshing comforting dish is perfect on a cool morning. The sugar will melt as it comes in contact with the hot porridge, creating a delicious syrup that kids will love.
I was brimming with so much excitement about my family starring in a new international media campaign that I ended up wearing the wrong trousers on set.
Never before had I felt the need to don Seamus’ trousers and I dare say I never will again. However, when the international media campaign for Juice Plus+ goes live tomorrow the whole world will be thankful that I narrowly avoided having to wear my husband’s jeans on screen.
My latest wardrobe malfunction was all down to the excitement of what was a fabulous family experience (despite, quite literally, getting trousered on set).
It being summer on the continent, I had packed a generous array of dresses, skirts, matching sandals and summer tops to try to look my best for the camera over three days of filming.
Having flown into Switzerland, we then travelled through breathtaking Alpine scenery to a farm in rural Germany. There, amid a spectacular setting that was akin to a scene from ‘The Sound of Music’, we were to begin filming for an advertisement campaign to be screened in Ireland, the UK and Nordic countries.
As you can probably imagine, team Penrose was brimming with excitement and anticipation.
However, soon after setting down in the farmyard I got the feeling that I may have omitted some very important items from my luggage. When confronted by the director who was kitted out in her best working boots, jeans and a tee-shirt – it dawned on me that my wardrobe selection may be a little flimsy for the rustic film set.
I was informed that the long skirt, white top and sandals I’d arrived in would have to go. My more fashionable items of clothing were unceremoniously condemned to the cutting room floor – practicality in favour of fashion.
There was more than a little merriment when Seamus handed me his jeans for a ‘fitting’. However, having tried them out for a little while, I soon decided that a more acceptable choice – for me at least – would be to revert to the Khaki-style trousers I had worn during our flight to Basel.
It was something of a fashion climb down for me but then again we were filming on a farm and at least I could chuckle with Seamus that everyone would now be in no doubt as to just who wears the trousers in our house – men’s or women’s.
Having effectively side-stepped the wardrobe malfunction, I joined the rest of the family for what were very memorable days for all of us.
Abbie and Jamie had a wonderful time – Jamie in particular took to being on camera like a duck to water.
Watching them both playing with the other kids on set was simply fabulous. They all got on so well by using play as a universal mode of communication to overcome any language barrier.
As I watched them skip and run through the fields together I thought to myself ‘this is what dreams are made of’.
Thanks to starting our business from home, we have gone from having one holiday a year at most to jetting off several times annually on all-expenses-paid family trips.
The filming was really exciting but I don’t think anything about the entire week made my heart warm in the same way as experiencing the children enjoy their moments of play together in the sunshine.
We’ve already had a sneak peak of the film and it really is all about the kids – who look like two natural wee movie stars.
The finished article is due to premiere in Bournemouth on October 7 and thankfully I won’t be featured on screen wearing the wrong trousers.
In fact, just for the occasion, I’m planning on ditching the trousers altogether in favour of something a little more sparkly.
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