Child obesity is a nationwide problem. One of the biggest issues for young people while trying to keep their bodies healthy is avoiding the temptations of junk food. It is nearly impossible to make healthy choices when fast food and high calorie packaged food is readily available and affordable.
Empowering children and young adults to make the right choices is a key puzzle piece in the fight against obesity. We need to give young people the tools to be able to make healthy choices, and say no to accessible junk food. Here are 10 things a young person can do before reaching mindlessly for junk food:
1) Watch a Funny YouTube Video
Many people turn to junk food when they are bored. A great alternative to snacking is to feed the boredom. Teens or kids can go on YouTube and watch the latest funny video. When they laugh, Endorphins will surge and the need to snack diminishes.
2) Call a Friend
Another reason people tend to crave food is when they want comfort. I encourage young people to reach out to friends instead of snacking. Having a conversation with a friend—in person, on the phone, or through text can satisfy the need to feel comforted and lessen the need for food.
3) Play A Game
There are many kinds of short games kids can play before venturing into the snack closet. In many houses there are basketball hoops, pogo sticks, trampolines, or hopscotch. If they want to stay inside, encourage kids to play a quick game of Connect Four or Angry Birds on their iPhone.
4) Take A Walk
Walking outside or on the treadmill releases hunger-inhibiting enzymes. This is a great alternative to snacking because it helps with hunger and boredom.
5) Dive Into Music
Let music feed your soul instead of food feeding your stomach! Young people can burn a playlist for a friend of family member, surf through their online music library, or look for new music. This can be a relaxing and fun way to distract against hunger.
6) Start Your Next Move
Technology has provided us with a plethora of great distractions. Young people can now play games through Facebook or their phones with friends, one turn at a time. Before reaching for a snack, try playing online Scrabble or the popular game “Words-Free” with a friend.
7) Organize A Pick-Up Game
Another way to tackle boredom is to initiate a pick-up game of basketball, street hockey or video games with friends. Young people can reach out to neighbors or friends from school to come over and hang out together.
8) Take a Power Nap
Often times teens and young people eat for extra energy. Taking a power nap is another great way to give the body a break and reset a craving for junk food.
9) Drink Water
Water with lemon or lime can cut cravings almost instantly. I always encourage teens or kids to drink one large glass of water before reaching for a snack—this often helps them realize they were not hungry in the first place.
10) Tackle One Cabinet
Everyone has a cabinet or drawer that needs organizing. Before reaching for junk food, take out some extra energy by conquering a messy drawer. It is a great distraction and you will get something done!
Most importantly, we need to help kids avoid eating junk food mindlessly and turn to healthier options like fruits, cut up vegetables, and whole grains. If we give them the tools to resist temptation, we are teaching them skills to last for a lifetime of healthy eating.
Flikr Image From bonnie_brown