It’s summer – sunny and lovely weather to head outdoors, to the pool/beach and possibly, a family barbecue. It may also be a time where we inadvertently gain weight, especially considering the ‘cooling’ treats like ice cream, soda drinks and sugary treats. How do parents and children keep their weight in check during summer and yet have family fun? This article explores staying healthy during summer without missing out on the fun in this season.
First thing – obesity is contagious
Before we get into the actual watch-your-weight tips, here’s a motivating tip – obesity is contagious. Eating itself is a contagious behavior among friends, partners and families. Studies have shown increased likelihood of one becoming obese if there is a close friend or family member who is obese. It doesn’t just stop here. If someone become obese, it is also more likely that his close friend follows suit. Given that eating is an obvious and easy way that parents can influence children in healthier eating habits for life, there is no better setting than a family to be motivating each other to be healthy!
Next – what’s obese?
For adults, the BMI is one of the easy indicators in addition with fats on the abdomen. For children, use the BMI meant for children that takes into consideration the age and height. Above 85th percentile is considered overweight and above 95th percentile is obese. Before we think it’s ok to be a little chubby for children, it isn’t because obesity in children can carry into adolescence and adulthood. Obesity is not only related to chronic diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart diseases, skin and bone problems but is itself, named as a chronic disease.
5 Weight control tips
Given how easy it is for family members to influence each other positively (and negatively!) and how serious obesity is, we would want to help our family and friends to keep our weight in control during summer. Moreover, a large part of weight control has to do with nutrition, or rather the ‘input’ into our body. Exercise, or output, also plays a part. Here are 5 tips that merge summer fun with weight control!
1. Head outdoors and move it!
Your family is already heading outdoors, be it to the beach or park. Why not bring along your rollerblades, running shoes, and scooter instead of just books, snacks and mat. Moving around, even if not a sport, has been shown to lower stress, reduce weight and show improvement in overall health. Calorie calculators can be used if you want to find out how many calories each activity burn off and how many you need to for that extra treat you ate.
2. Eat to lose
Sounds too good to be true? There are foods which help in weigh loss mainly due to (i) help with fullness for a longer time, (ii) help boost metabolism or (iii) help to reduce the urge to binge. Foods that help with satiety include eggs, oats and soups with lean protein. Foods that curb binging are dark chocolate and almonds. Foods that boost metabolism or help increase fat burn are yoghurt and green tea. Many of these foods can be catered for summer such as summer soup recipes or drinking ice green tea instead of soda!
3. Drink wisely
Bubble tea with those pearls or Slurpees are summer favorite drinks but note this – the former has more than 200 calories while a 11-oz slurpee comes very close to 200 calories. A glass of wine is usually 100-200 calories, varying on the type of wine. Instead replace half the glass with seltzer water to turn it into a spritzer. Most importantly, drink lots of water. Sometimes we think we need an icy sugary drink, but really with all that summer heat, we really just need ice water!
4. Watch that sugar
It is amazing how calories can easily add up with sugar. One teaspoon of sugar is 15 calories and if you add a little to your coffee in the morning drink a full-fledged sugar and whole milk dose of ice-latte in the afternoon and have cookie and cream ice cream in the evening, these probably add up to 200 calories of sugar (or even more!). To have a sense of how much work you have to do to burn off 200 calories, it is about an hour of walking or 30 minutes of jogging.
5. Summer snooze
Sleep is another factor that contribute to weight gain. It may be due to being awake longer at night and eating more or lack of sleep triggering overeating in the day. Being tired from lack of sleep may lead the brain to needing a sense of comfort and energy and instead of sleep; food may be used to tide over this lethargy. While summer is a season to play more and make use of the sunny weather, don’t sacrifice sleep for added hours of activity.
Truly enjoy summer without having to work on that extra weight gain when the season is over, start eating and living healthy!