What Do I Do? My Child is Overweight!

You eat healthy and make good food choices.  Your husband is an avid runner.  How can our daughter/son be overweight and have such poor eating habits?  For the first time, the obesity epidemic outweighs malnutrition in this country.  Obesity in children has tripled since the 1970’s.  Your child gets bombarded daily in the media with ads for high fat, high sugar, supersize portion,  nutrition barren foods!!  What can you do about this?   There is an answer – but it’s not always easy! 

Here are some suggestions to help encourage healthy eating habits in your child:

  • Eat together as a family at least twice a week.
  • Have your child help pick out some things when you go to the grocery store – making sure, of course, they are smart choices!  This gives them a feeling of  control over what they eat.
  • Do not let your child get too hungry.  Kids are likely to overeat if they are ravenous.  It takes 20 minutes for your brain to get the message from your stomach that you are full!  If you eat too quickly (as you do when you’re very hungry), it can lead to overeating.
  • Leave a bowl of grapes or berries on the kitchen counter so kids can just grab when walking by.  Kids should be getting at least five servings of fruits and veggies a day.
  • Plan meals in advance – the best way to avoid driving into a fast food restaurant is to have your meals planned ahead of time. 
  • Do not keep high fat, high sugar foods in the house.  YOU have control over this!
  • Discuss healthy eating and exercise on a daily basis as a family and with your children.
  • Let them cook with you – teach them about the wonderful ingredients you are using.
  • Lead  by example – if you are taking care of yourself, chances are  your child will, too.
  • If your child loves cheese, experiment with different low fat cheeses.  There are a variety of these and your child will have fun picking their favorite.
  • Never force your child to clean his/her plate!
  • Drink LOTS of water – encourage your child to have a large glass prior to eating.
  • Remember not to be critical and focus on the positive when dealing with your son/daughter with regard to their eating habits.
  • If you feel unsuccessful on your own, see a registered dietitian.  They can be an excellent resource as they are specially trained in food, nutrition and health!

A visit to your pediatrician is a great place to start if you are looking for help.  They can let you know exactly how overweight your child is and what the best course of action may be.  Don’t get discouraged – it may take time for your child to jump on board.  Don’t forget, your example will be the biggest factor as to whether your child will assimilate good nutrition practices into their daily lives.

For more suggestions and ideas on weight management, see www.trim-kids.com.