10 Experts, 10 Choices – Healthy Kids

Welcome to the first installment of our new column, Off the Clock. Here we ask bariatric experts a question about their own lives and thoughts. No one has any single, easy answer to losing weight, and nothing you read here will be earth-shattering. But simple, single choices can add up and make a difference and you may find a few that you’d like to try, from doctors who fight obesity every day.

Today we ask: “How have you helped your own children make healthy choices?”

“I disconnected the PS3 from its permanent spot on the TV, bought a road bike for my son, and made the difficult decision to come home a little earlier and bike with him. The only way to get him off the couch was to work around his schedule, not mine.”
Dr. Sunil Bhoyrul, San Diego

“When my kids were in elementary school, they learned that their father spoke to the administration and talked them into removing juices from the vending machines at school and replacing them with bottles of water. I am not sure my kids ever confessed to the fact that they were related to “some idiot father” who had talked the administration into doing this. But today, they both thank me for it!”
Dr. Vafa Shayani, Chicago

“When my kids start asking for treats, it’s usually that they are bored, like being stuck inside on rainy days; once we engage them with activity they forget the desire for treats. Cutting fruits and food into fun shapes also works wonders in getting my kids to eat healthy.”
Dr. Dan Davis, Stamford

“I limit number of desserts my kids get each week, and I count chips as dessert. Also they never get sugary soda.”
Dr. Marina Kurian, New York

“I try to use the treadmill with my kids around. They play while I exercise. I hope it will give them a sense that exercise is a part of a good daily routine, by setting an example now. Habits are hard to change, so I try to help them form good habits early.”
Dr. Jaime Ponce, Tennessee

“I have 4 kids (5 – 19 yrs old). We have them pick one healthy supper per week that they will make together. They shop for it, prepare it, serve and clean. We approve the meals and help guide them to healthy choices. They can not do the same meal twice during a two month stretch.”
Dr. Toby Broussard, Oklahoma

“We pack my daughter’s lunch every day. It’s typically turkey or oven roasted chicken, wheat crackers, real cheese, water, a pickle slice and gogurt. Because I am weak we don’t keep chips around – if junk does not get into the house, it can’t get consumed – but we do eat chips and salsa on Sundays when we go out for Mexican food. For a sweet treat we do watermelon or grapes.”
Dr. Adam Smith, Fort Worth

“My kids and I try to help each other make healthy choices. We eat with our non-dominant hand so that we eat more slowly, which can be fun & funny for kids. Also we eat in a certain order – lots of leafy greens first, then our protein, and last the starch.”
Dr. RoseMarie Jones, Indianapolis

“The healthiest choice we have created in our home is to completely separate the TV and eating. In otherwords, meals are meals and meant to be enjoyed and savored in the dining room. While the TV is enjoyed in the family room and food does not enter that room ever! A hard rule for the family to follow but at least we are not like the pavilovian dogs that salivate every time a food commerical comes on.”
Dr. Tom Umbach, Nevada

“At home we only buy healthy cereal, but on vacation we let the kids choose a sugary cereal which we call ‘candy cereal’. The funny thing is I always buy healthy cereal on vacation too, and the kids end up eating more of that than the sugary stuff, by their own choice. I also show them how to read nutrition labels, and we check together for how much sugar our food and drinks have before we buy them.”
Dr. Emma Patterson, Portland

by Emma Squillace