If your child or teen is severely overweight, it’s something that could affect them for the rest of their lives. By not managing their weight now, you are helping them onto the fast track towards high blood pressure, diabetes, and even heart attacks. These things are occurring at younger and younger ages thanks to higher food consumption and less exercise.
The hard part for parents to understand is that you are essentially the cause of your child’s weight problem. You are enabling their overeating habit and not providing them with enough time or encouragement to get up and move around. Accepting your responsibility in this is the first step to leading your child to a healthier lifestyle. Start today, implement the facts and tips below and you’ll soon have a healthier, happier child.
Make Being Healthy a Fun Family Affair
While parents are definitely a major part of the problem when it comes to overweight kids and teens, you are also the solution. You have to make the necessary changes in their diets and how much exercise they are getting, and you have to be consistent.
If your child has a weight issue, make health a family affair. Don’t single out the one child, just let your family know that you are going to start being more healthy and that some fun and exciting changes are ahead. Just be sure of two things: First, you must make it fun and exciting; if your child sees this as a chore you will be met with a great deal of resistance. Second, make sure that you (and your spouse) are one hundred percent dedicated and willing to sacrifice to better the health of your whole family.
Make this a learning experience for the whole family and start doing new things that encourage healthy behaviors. Have the kids go grocery shopping with you for fresh produce and choose new things to try. Perhaps you could plant a vegetable garden or fruit trees of your own so that your children can proudly eat the healthy things that they grew with their own two hands.
You can also never have too many books about healthy eating and the dangers of processed foods, too little exercise, etc.
Finally, it’s time to get moving. Go out as a family and instead of the theater, hit a bike trail, batting cage, park, or any other place that gets you moving. Exercise can definitely be fun if you approach it right. You can’t expect to put your ten year old on a treadmill for an hour a day and hope that saying “Now isn’t this fun?” is going to be enough to keep him motivated.
Visit the Doctor
Every child is different. Your child may look a little pudgy to you but actually be perfectly healthy. Likewise, you may think that your child’s extra layer is just “baby fat” but he actually needs to be losing weight.
Your child definitely has an “ideal weight” that is considered healthy for his height, age, and other determining factors. If your child’s weight begins to concern you, take him to see your doctor and get his opinion. He can let you know where your child should be as well as give you some pointers for how to help him lose weight in a safe and healthy way.
Taking your child in for a regular physical exam each year can also help to find and solve a potential problem before it gets too far out of hand. Many times there are underlying causes for a child being overweight, especially if the weight gain happened very rapidly. Regular visits to your doctor not only help keep your child’s weight at a healthy range; it also keeps his overall health in check.
Have a Plan
Simply deciding that you are going to help your child lose weight is not enough; it’s only the first step. You need to actually know how you are going to help your child and then put your plan into action.
The first two steps we mentioned are good places to start; visit the doctor for advice and then announce that your family will be participating in a health-a-thon of sorts. Do not focus on your child’s weight or how many pounds he’s lost. Instead, focus on getting him to eat healthier and move more.
You can’t expect to trade out your child’s macaroni and cheese for steamed broccoli and fish and not be met with some resistance. The most lasting changes are the ones that gradually take place over time. Start with minor diet changes like swapping out the blue box of mac n’ cheese for whole wheat pasta topped with fat free shredded cheese and skim milk. You can also sneak vegetables into just about anything and it will go undetected; mix some sweet potatoes in the macaroni and he’ll get added vitamins without even knowing it.
Have a plan, make small changes at a time, be patient, supportive, and encouraging, and your child will be on the road to a much healthier lifestyle.