Helping your kids make healthy choices from a young age is one of the only things you can do to prevent them from getting back pain. Obesity is one of the major causes of many types of back pain, and obesity is sometimes one of the only things you have a choice over, unlike injury, aging, or spinal conditions. Below are some ideas to help you and your kids have a healthy lifestyle.
Why obesity causes back pain
Obesity can aggravate preexisting symptoms of back pain associated with conditions like sciatica, arthritis, degenerative disc disease, and many more. While you may suffer from these conditions without being overweight, obesity will simply add to your pain if you do suffer from these conditions. Obesity itself might also cause back pain because of the extra body weight pulling your spine out of its natural curvature, extra muscle strain, and more pressure on your spinal discs. For more information on why obesity causes back pain, check out this blog post.
Steps to keep your kids healthy from a young age
1. They’ll do what you do, so lead by example. One of the first things you probably learned as a parent is that your kids will do what you do. As early as one month old, if you stick out your tongue, your kid will too. That is why it is important for you to maintain a healthy lifestyle full of good foods and exercise.
2. Encourage exercise. Have fun activities available for your kids that will allow them to get some exercise. Activities such as swimming, riding bikes, skateboarding, sports, swinging at a jungle gym, or playing catch will help them get in the habit of exercising from a young age. If you enjoy going to the gym, going on runs, or doing yoga, encourage your kids to accompany you.
3. Choose healthy foods, even for dessert. Feed your kids a balanced diet full of fruits and veggies. If they want a dessert, make healthy oatmeal bites or zucchini bread with less sugar. There are plenty of ways to include the necessary vitamins in your child’s diet.
4. Don’t purchase junk food. Don’t have junk food in the house. Provide healthy snacks for your kids instead, such as baby carrots, broccoli bites, celery sticks, cucumber slices, turkey wraps, and so much more.
5. Establish routines. Have a schedule for when each meal and snack is. This will encourage your kids to eat only during those times so that they don’t overindulge. Create a schedule for exercise as well. For example, you could have a snack when they get home from school, then time for homework, then some time to play outside. Food routines and exercise routines will help them create healthy habits for the future.
6. Teach your kids how to cook. Teaching your children how to cook healthy meals will help them establish a habit of healthy cooking for the rest of their lives. It can even be fun to create a recipe book with them that they can eventually take to college, allowing them a piece of home and a healthy option for dinner.
7. Never make your children “clean their plate.” When children are done eating, that means they are full. Don’t force them to eat everything on their plate because this habit of overeating stretches out their stomach and makes them want more food the next time they eat. If your kids tend to eat everything but the veggies on their plate, consider giving them just the veggies first and then the rest of the meal when they have finished their veggies.
8. Limit their time with electronics. Time on the phone or playing video games means less time exercising and playing. Make electronic time part of their schedule so they don’t spend too much time sitting on their bums.9. Spoil their interests. Sometimes finding what your child likes will help them to stay active. You might find that they love running or playing a certain sport. Allow them to spend more time doing what they love, especially if that means more exercise. The same goes for healthy food they enjoy. If they prefer peas to broccoli, let them eat that kind of healthy food instead of the kind they don’t like. Good food choices for their health should never feel like a punishment and neither should exercise.
Geisinger. (2017, July 24). 10 tips to keep your kids from growing up obese. Retrieved from https://www.geisinger.org/health-and-wellness/wellness-articles/2017/07/24/19/46/10-tips-to-keep-your-kids-from-growing-up-obese
Silveri, C. P. (n.d.). Back Pain and Obesity. Retrieved from https://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/back-pain/back-pain-obesity#:~:text=When excess weight is carried,low back—the lumbar spine.