Make Weight Control
A Family Affair!
Out of embarassment over their own issues with weight and food, many parents don't take a proactive approach to a growing problem in our society -- childhood obesity. Often the most difficult part of the problem is parents don't know how and when to talk to their children about weight. The last thing any parent wants is to give their child a self-esteem problem or trigger a reaction that could lead to an eating disorder. For nearly everyone, weight is a touchy subject and the right approach is critical.
If your child has a weight problem, the solution is not to put them on a restrictive diet. Instead, resolve to help them learn how to improve their eating and exercise patterns in a healthy way that can last for a lifetime. There is no quick fix: You are signing on for some long-term changes that need to be made as a family. A good approach is to explain to the child that the whole family needs to be healthier and you will all be making some adjustments to what you eat and be doing more physical activities.
Gradually cut back on the amount of junk food your family has access to and stock up on some healthier alternatives — fruits and vegetable snacks, for instance — so they can fill up between meals without feeling deprived. Parents need to monitor their own food habits as well, because children will certainly notice what they consume and learn from watching them.
Don't stock sugar-laden sodas and salty chips in your home. Set goals for reducing the number of unhealthy foods in your household. Serve fruits and vegetables at every meal, eliminate fried foods in favour of baked or boiled, look for the leanest cuts of meat and poultry and offer more fish entrees as a main course. Eating family-style with your children also helps. Kids will develop better habits and you will have some control over portion sizes.
We are a super-sized world and don't always consider appropriate portions for the nutrition that our bodies need. Don't serve heaped portions of calorie-laden items. Instead let everyone have unlimited amounts of salads and generous servings of fresh produce. Don't ignore the extra empty calories and high sugar content in soft drinks... kids love them, but they add up to extra pounds. Offer some lower sugar options -- plenty of water, homemade lemonade, freshly squeezed juices and tea. No skipping meals. It's unhealthy for everyone, but especially for growing kids. Start the day off with a healthy breakfast and follow through with a nutritious lunch and dinner and better snack selections throughout the day.
Limit screen time for kids — sitting in front of a television or computer doesn't do anything to encourage an active lifestyle. Leave the dishes for later and go for a brisk family walk after dinner. Play outside with your kids and get them involved with a sport. Ride bikes together or toss around a Frisbee, go to the park as a group and climb on the playground equipment. Provide at least two hours of physical activity for your child every single day. It will be good for you, too! Fighting childhood obesity works best when it's a family affair.