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Childhood Obesity Awareness Month Blog Carnival
This article was written for inclusion in the blog carnival hosted by Littlestomaks to promote awareness of childhood obesity as part of the National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Please read to the end of this article to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

This month marks the first ever Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. With over 23 million kids ages 2 to 19 being obese or overweight, this truly is an epidemic that we all need to be aware of. As a mom of two small children, my perspective on this issue has shifted as I actively seek to teach my kids about what healthy eating looks like. Let me share with you a little of what I have learned in the past three years that a classroom could never teach me.

I never realized how hard it would be to resist taking the "easy way out". Driving home with the kids at 5:00, passing all of the fast food drive-thrus, I am tempted to stop. I rack my brain thinking about what could possibly be on the menu that we could eat that would be good for us. I keep driving when my brain comes up empty. I know that even by ordering the "healthy" items on the menu, I would still be subjecting us to a ridiculous amount of processed ingredients. So we head on home and I put together a quick and healthy meal consisting of whole grains, protein, vegetables and fruit. I guess what I'm saying is that I understand how busy families get sucked into eating fast food on busy nights. That's one reason that I try to provide ideas for quick go-to recipes on this blog, so that you too can drive right on by the neon signs.

I underestimated how receptive my son would be to learning about nutrition. I love taking him to the grocery store with me because when he reaches for the can that has his favorite Disney character on it, I can explain to him why that is not a good food choice. He understands it best when we talk about how his body feels after eating certain foods. Because he eats mostly whole foods, he doesn't always feel well after eating something that is highly processed. At the grocery store, he puts the Disney can back on the shelf because he understands that it won't make him feel his best.

I didn't realize how important it would be to involve my kids in growing and cooking our food. I am always amazed at how my son will pick a cherry tomato and a basil leaf fresh from the garden and pop them in his mouth. But when I bring the same kind of tomatoes home from the store, he is not interested in eating them. He does the same thing with dinner. If I place his dinner plate in front of him at the table and he has had no part in putting it together, he may pick at his food. But if he is up at the counter with me helping me cook, he wants to smell and taste every ingredient. He sits at the dinner table thanking me for helping him cook a great meal (like he is the master chef).

I underestimated the ability of children to have a wide palate. I almost did it. I almost gave into the "Mommy and Daddy will eat this adult meal while the kids have their choice of chicken nuggets, pizza or hot dogs" mentality. That was until my son at two years old asked for a bite of my salmon one night at dinner. He ended up eating almost the entire filet. My 17-month-old daughter can't get enough edamame or any other beans for that matter, the more flavorful the better. I can't believe I almost fell into the trap of limiting my kids to such a narrow concept of food. I'm so glad I didn't!

Healthy eating starts at home...with you. Take the reigns, get the family together, decide to live healthy active lives. You have the power to keep your kids from being a statistic. Let's do this.

Please share in the comment section what you are doing to prevent childhood obesity in your home.

Say NO to Childhood Obesity
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated September 14 with all the carnival links.)

Alysa is a registered dietitian, certified personal trainer, crafter, mom and wife. Find more inspiration on Alysa's blog Inspired RD. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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