It’s becoming more common, although many parents fear the diagnosis. Children are becoming overweight in startling numbers. There are many factors helping to cause the growing problem, but it is up to parents to help their child learn to live a healthier life style. If you are overweight yourself, helping your child will most likely help you as well.
Get the Right Attitude
If your child is overweight, it is likely a scenario you’ve caused by overlooking a poor diet or lack of activity. If you’re overweight, even if you’re comfortable with your weight, you’ve passed on future health problems and possibly self esteem issues to your child by not helping them learn to eat and exercise properly.
You can’t resolve a problem like this overnight and it is not the child’s problem to solve. The family is unhealthy or you’ve allowed at least one member to become unhealthy, so now the family must rally together to change lifestyles and regain focus on good health and proper nutrition.
Assess the Damage
It’s likely you realised there was a problem when you took your child to the doctor or to buy new clothes. If you didn’t realise your child was becoming overweight, you’re in a prime position to resolve the issue. But before you can start a new, healthy lifestyle, you must assess and eliminate the negative aspects of your current one.
Keep track for a few days of what each member of your household is eating. How much food goes into your child’s mouth and what is it? Ask what she eats for lunch every day and press her for an honest answer. Also keep track of everyone’s physical activity. Try not to pad your notes with good intentions. Good intentions didn’t get your family into this situation. You need to know the facts. Be honest, even if its painful and shocking.
Make a Plan
To create a healthier diet, you would do very well to find healthier versions of foods your children already like to eat. By doing away with chicken nuggets and macaroni, you’re opening yourself up to tantrums and food strikes. Instead, learn to make your own breaded chicken nuggets so you can skip the fried variety and make macaroni using whole grain noodles and organic cheeses.
You can make your food change subtly over time, or call the family together to announce the new plan. When speaking of your new healthy diet, try very hard to avoid mentioning anyone’s weight – except maybe your own – and leave your kids out of it. You want the family to be healthier, so you’re going to prepare things a bit healthier and there will be different kinds of snacks around. Make no mention of weight loss.
Include activities that are fun for kids to help keep them moving. Bring home a dancing game for the video system or sign your child up for an activity that he’d really like to play such as hockey or basketball. Take family bike rides and walks, or drive out on the weekends for family hikes. Make activities a part of everyone’s life so that they become fun and second nature – not punishment or work.
What Happens Next
When adults change diets and start excising, they lose weight. Your child might not lose weight, however. Children who are still growing need quite a few calories a day to give them energy and fuel. By changing a child’s diet, you are not necessarily taking away calories, but you are replacing empty calories with better food choices.
The calories your child is consuming will likely fall because the food items are less calorie laden. But as your child grows, his weight might stay close to the same amount rather than increase. This means that he’ll simply be growing into his weight. If your child is very overweight, it is very likely that he will lose weight, especially when he starts exercising.
When trying to help an overweight child, your goal is not to put the child on a diet. By teaching the child to eat properly and exercise, you’re simply changing the child’s pathways for the future. Exercise will burn off fat and help built muscle, and the healthier diet will keep your child full of calories that help him grow into a healthy, strong young adult.