It’s no secret that many parents and their children are overweight. These 10 simple ‘secrets’ can help you change your family’s lifestyle so that you can all become fit and healthy.

1) Eat Whole Grain Foods

Processed and refined grains, such as white bread, white rice, cereal, pasta, and other foods made with white flour have a high glycemic index, low amounts of fiber, and less vitamins and minerals as foods made with whole grains. Making the switch to whole grain foods, including whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta, brown rice, and cereals made with whole grains, are an easy and healthy way to make your family’s diet more nutritious.

2) Limit Soda and Fruit Drinks

Soda and fruit drinks have low nutritional value and a lot of calories. At about 150 calories per 12 ounce serving, your kids will gain an extra pound about every 3 weeks if they drink just one can of soda each day.
Cutting back or eliminating soda, fruit drinks, and even fruit juice, can be a good way to get rid of a lot of extra calories and leave room for your kids to eat more nutritious foods.

3) Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Most children don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables and that usually means that they are eating other less nutritious foods. With a high fiber content and lots of vitamins and minerals, fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. And because they have lots of water in them, eating fruits and vegetables can help you to feel full and satisfied so that you don’t overeat.

4) Eat More Foods with Calcium

A common mistake people make when trying to lose weight is that they stop drinking milk, eating cheese and yogurt. Calcium is important to build healthy bones and to help you lose weight. You should encourage your kids to drink low-fat milk, eat portioned amounts of cheese and yogurt to help lose weight and maintain a healthy weight.

5) Be More Active

Everyone knows that part of the cause of the current obesity epidemic is that people are much less active then they used to be. Getting kids involved in organized activities, which can be either team or individual sports, and cutting back on the amount of time in front of the TV, computer and playing video games will burn calories and improve fitness levels.

Family activities are also a good way to be more physically active. Even simple things, like walking across a parking lot, using stairs, and going for short family walks or bike rides, can make a big difference.

6) Know Where Calories Come From

While you don’t necessarily need to do daily calorie counts, keep a diary of what your family eats for a few days can help you see where extra calories are coming from. Are your kids overweight because of the calories they get from a bedtime snack or those two glasses of Kool Aid or soda he drinks? Or maybe because his portion sizes are too large?

If you know where your kids’ calories are coming from, you will know where to make changes and how you can cut back, especially on foods that have a lot of empty calories.

7) Learn About Carbs

Carbs get a bad wrap, especially with all of the proponents of high protein diets, like the Atkins and South Beach Diet. Not all carbs are created equal. While it is a good idea to avoid foods that have refined such as white bread, foods made with white flour, and foods and beverages sweetened with sugar, other carbs should be part of a balanced diet.

Instead of avoiding all carbs, just learn about how to choose foods with ‘good’ carbohydrates, which includes fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grain foods.

8) Learn About Fats

Like carbs, there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fats. Instead of making the mistake of trying to stick to a low fat diet, and simply substituting other foods that are often just as high in calories, you should eat foods that have ‘good’ fat in them. This includes foods with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. On the other hand, you should avoid saturated fats and trans fats.

9) Choose Healthy Meals when Eating Out

Even if your family eats healthy at home, if you eat super-sized fast food meals a few times a week, they are probably still at risk for becoming overweight. If you eat out a lot, review the nutritional facts of the restaurant’s menu and watch your portion sizes. Calories and fat quickly adds up when eating out!

10) Stay Motivated!

Most people know what they need to do to be healthier however, eating healthy and exercising is not easy. Education about the specifics of a healthy diet, getting the whole family involved, and setting goals, can help your family stay healthy and fit. Hire a personal trainer or seek the counsel of a dietitian to keep you on the healthy track.