August 15, 2017
For every parent in this world, there’s nothing more important than keeping their child happy, safe and healthy. However, sometimes parents tend to focus more on the happiness of the child than the safety and health, which can lead to big problems in the future. One of those problems is childhood obesity. Simply put: parents don’t want to say “no” to their child, or don’t know enough about nutrition to provide their children with a healthy diet, so they let them eat what the want – which is frequently sugary and fatty treats. It’s important to take control of your child’s eating habits as soon as you see their weight going out of hand, and this is how you should be doing it:
Consult a doctor
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t simply take things into your own hands or follow the advice of well-meaning friends or family members who are not professionals. If you notice your child is getting overweight, take them to their pediatrician or to a nutritionist that specializes in children’s nutrition and ask for advice. They will talk to you and your child, assess their habits, activity levels, do some tests and come up with a plan that will allow your child to lose weight efficiently and safely. Perhaps the way to do it is by changing some things in your child’s eating habits, or maybe they simply need some physical activity to burn the calories that they are taking in. The doctor will ask you to come in for regular check-ups so that they can track the child’s weight loss, and it is important that you always go, because monitoring and adapting the program is key for success.
Lead by example
Children will always reflect their parents’ behavior, so it is up to us to set a good example for them when it comes to eating habits and exercise. If your child needs to follow a special diet to lose weight, don’t sit next to them at dinner and eat something unhealthy. Eat the same food as your child, making the differences only in portion sizes. The same goes for snacks: if your child sees you making a stop on the way to work to grab a sugary snack or overly sweetened drink, they are more likely to do the same when you are not around. Educate yourself in the field of nutrition and teach your child about the importance of healthy eating from a young age. Know how to answer their questions, and if you are unsure, it’s a great chance for the two of you to find something out together. Explain to them that they need to eat healthy if they want to be healthy and strong and have the energy to do everything they want to do.
Have the right approach
There are two ways parents can approach their children’s weight that are inherently bad, so let’s examine them further. The first mistake is taking it too lightly. Thinking that it is just “baby fat” or that it doesn’t matter when they are young can be dangerous, because it can easily snowball into a bigger problem as they get older. The other mistake that parents make is taking it too seriously. Yes, you should educate them about healthy eating habits and set them up for success by preparing healthy meals and allowing them to engage in physical activities regularly. However, pressuring your child into it or making it a constant topic in the household can make them feel embarrassed and can actually lead to dangerous eating disorders further down the line.
Make it fun
You can make your kid do practically anything as long as you make it fun for them. For weight loss, that means making both the food and the physical activity entertaining. Children are much more likely to eat a piece of fruit you give them if it is carved in a shape of a star or an animal, simply because it looks more interesting. Get some cookie cutters and use them to change the appearance of their food. While you’re at it, learn a few tricks for making animal faces or different shapes out of healthy foods. When it comes to physical activity, make everything a game. Don’t tell them to just “go play”; instead, teach them how to play a specific sport, play tag with them in the back yard, go swimming, or enroll them in a sports class. Add the extra fun factor by taking them to an indoor trampoline park to have a special day out, while still staying active. Try to incorporate some sort of physical activity into their everyday, even it’s something like racing them down the street to the front door every day when they’re coming back from school.
It’s important to take care of our children’s weight since it will boost their immune system, improve both their physical and emotional health, as well as overall quality of life. Who knows, maybe you will find yourself becoming healthier together with them!