10 Ways to Help Kids Lose Weight & Keep the Pounds Off!

Two out of every three American children are overweight or obese... And it is easy for parents to feel overwhelmed (or guilty!) in the struggle with their child’s weight. Childhood weight problems are serious: Overweight children are at greater risk for diabetes, heart disease, and joint problems as well as psychological issues like low self-esteem.

The good news? There are easy and effective ways to help your child achieve a normal weight.

Have a Clean-Out...

Are you ready to help your child lose weight?  Then start with a clean-out.  Go through the kitchen.  Get rid of any foods that are high in calories but low on nutrition.  Common offenders include sodas (regular or diet!!!), potato chips, most TV dinners, and commercial baked goods like cookies or pastries.  Removing these items will cut down on the temptation your child faces at home.  Sometimes simply reducing access to junk food is an effective strategy.

…And Offer Healthy Foods Instead

After the big clean-out, you should have plenty of room in the kitchen for beverages like cold water and unsweetened iced tea, snacks like fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy, homemade meals.

Frankly, if your child has grown up on foods that are high in sugars and fats, they’re likely to rebel at first.  But don’t give up.  Keep offering healthy alternatives to help them change their eating habits, and eventually they will respond.  Most experts agree that, at any age, this change of habit is the most powerful tool for long-term weight loss.

Talk to Your Doctor

If you are concerned about your child’s weight, talk to your doctor. They can help you form a strategy for shedding unwanted pounds.  One topic you should definitely bring up is the issue of calorie restriction, which is a controversial strategy for kids who are still growing and developing.  Also be sure to get your doctor’s approval before starting any specialized regimen such as a low-carb diet. 

Increase Activity Level

While calorie restriction is still debatable, one thing that nearly all pediatricians agree on is that increasing a child’s activity level is a good weight loss strategy.  There are many ways to get your child active.

You can walk to school and back with your child. If that is not an option, take them for a walk after class.  Keep the television off in the afternoon and let them play outside instead.  Go for hikes on the weekend instead of sleeping in.  Swimming is also a great low-impact activity.  If your child doesn’t have the confidence to get into a bathing suit, dancing is a wonderful cardio exercise they can do in the privacy of their own room. 

Getting kids used to the new regimen can take a while. But if you keep at it – and exercise with them – eventually this will become the “new normal.”

Have them Help You in the Kitchen

Want to improve your child’s relationship with food? Have them help you out in the kitchen! Take your child shopping and allow them to pick out some fruits, vegetables, or other healthy foods – and teach them to resist the junk! Then head to the kitchen and prepare together. While you work, teach your kids about different healthy foods and how to make them.  Kids will get more enthusiastic about any dish if they have chosen and helped prepare it.

Find Low-Cal Versions of Favorite Dishes

Does your kid keep whining for mac ‘n’ cheese? That’s okay!  Make one with whole grain pasta and a low-fat cheddar cheese. Add broccoli florets to make it even better.  Light versions of popular dishes allow your kids to enjoy their favorite meals so that they’re more likely to stick to healthy eating.

Snacking Is Ok – if it’s Done Right!

What kid doesn’t love cookies and milk after school?  Even when you are helping your child to lose weight, you don’t have to make them give up snacks.  Just snack smart!  Have a small fruit plate ready for an after-school pick-me-up.  Or offer peanut butter on whole-grain crackers.

If snacks are made with healthy, high-nutrition food, they can be an important weapon in the fight to lose weight.  They’ll keep kids from getting too hungry in between meals and overeating once dinner is ready. 

Be Supportive – and Don’t Punish

Overweight kids are often teased by their classmates.  Even at a young age, they can feel embarrassed or ashamed of their weight problem.  Never punish a child for “falling off the wagon” when they’re trying to eat healthy. This can only make the emotional issues worse. 

If they have made poor choices for a meal, talk about what healthier options they might opt for in the future. And when they have eaten healthy, praise them to the skies. This supportive attitude can truly help them on their weight loss journey.

Enlist the Support of Others

Weight loss is a struggle at any age.  And parents and children don’t have to cope without outside support. Apart from your family doctor, enlist the help of others in your community.  Your child’s teacher, the school nurse, and members of your extended family can get in on the act, and provide support even when you’re not there.  And the more supported your child feels, the more likely they are to be successful with their weight loss.

Set a Good Example

One of the most important tools for reducing your child’s weight – is you!  Set a good example.  If your child sees you loading up on the salad bar at lunch and eating fresh strawberries for dessert, they will (eventually!) follow your lead.  Follow the eating habits that you want them to have – this is one of the best forms of support you can give them.

Is your child struggling with weight?  Which changes will you make in their lifestyle (and yours!)?

Tags : health   nutrition   weight loss   

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