During the winter time many people struggle to keep their weight under control, and things are no different for children.
As a whole we tend to be more sedentary in the winter. It feels good to go home and cuddle up in front of the TV especially when it’s cold outside. From the cold weather to the rich holiday meals, the winter season can be real recipe for weight gain.
Dr. Chrystal Wittcopp, pediatrician and director of the pediatric weight management program at Baystate Children’s Hospital offers tips on how to keep you and your kids healthy and fit over the winter season and winter break.
When you’re trying to keep off that winter weight it’s really important to incorporate at least 60 minutes a day of moderate level physical activity. That may see hard to do that when you can’t things of things to do outside, but cold air shouldn’t prevent us from going out.
Unless it is really cold with the wind chill below zero, you should still be able to bundle up and get outside.
Local parks are still open; you and your family can go out for a walk. Believe it or not walking through snow burns a fair amount of calories. Sledding, ice skating and building snowmen are also great physical activities.
Those are some great outdoor activities you can do but there are lots of indoor things to do too. Most of the local schools that have swimming pools have open swim and gym times during the winter. So you can go and enjoy some indoor activities even though it’s cold outside.
Diet also plays a major role in keeping off those winter pounds. It’s important to manage what you’re eating. In one meal you can easily consume enough calories to outdo any of the exercise you did all week. During holiday meals, try to avoid getting seconds and limit yourself to your favorites and try to portion size them appropriately. Also, don’t drink your calories and try and drink water with your meal. You don’t want to waste extra calories on high sugar and high calorie drinks.
Ask for help
If you feel that your family may need of some extra help, the Baystate Pediatric Weight Management program can lend a helping hand. The medical based program includes assistance from a registered dietitian, phycologist, social worker and pediatrician. All involved access the patient and ensure their weight isn’t causing any other health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Along with that they also work with the patient and their family to help adopt healthier habits.
Once they are in the program they have an option to sign up for the M.I.G.H.T.Y program. M.I.G.H.T.Y or Moving Improving and Gaining Health Together at the YMCA, is a six month program that works with patients at the local YMCA. Every other week patients spend 2 hours exercising and meeting with the dietitian. They also sit down with a social worker and phycologist to motivate them to keep up the healthy habits. It’s proven that a family that play together stays fit together, so the program also includes a family membership to the Springfield YMCA.
Limit Screen time
Kids are great about coming up with their own activities if they’re taken away from the environment of the screen. If you let them sit in front of the screen with the video games and TV all day long, they will. Set limits on screen time. This is especially important when they are on breaks. The recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics is no more than 2 hours of screen time per day. Give your child two hours, and then say the rest of the day you have to figure out what to do with yourself. They don’t necessarily have to be outside running around and sweating, but anything that’s not screen time is better for maintaining their weight than screen time. Reading a book, arts and craft, board games or even chores are all great activities that they can do while they are home on break.