Seeing your child struggling with a weight issue can be heartbreaking on many levels. On a physical level, your child may have a difficult time engaging in many of the activities that other children do. On an emotional level, your child may suffer with self-esteem issues. The bad news is that you can share the blame if your child is overweight. The good news is that you can help do something to put your child on the pathway to health.
As someone who has struggled with weight issues for most of my life, I never realized the impact that my eating and exercise habits had on others until I had a family of my own. When I saw my kids heading for the chips, cookies and soda, I would immediately know that they should not be eating those things. I knew, however, that I could not really say anything to them about eating those foods because those were the foods that I was eating too. By the same token, it was difficult for me to nudge them outside to play when I spent most of my time either watching TV or sitting at the computer.
This realization sparked something inside of me. I wanted to be an example to my kids. I began to walk every day. I also stopped buying junk food. Instead I began eating fruit, yogurt, and drinking water. When I changed my habits, I saw their habits slowly begin to change too.
Here are some things you need to remember when trying to help your child get fit and healthy.
Don’t make it a weight issue. Don’t even discuss weight with your child. Talk about health and fitness. When you discuss a child being overweight, it goes directly to his self-esteem. He begins to see himself as lacking in some way. It can actually trigger binging or other eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.
Make exercise fun. Don’t make exercise seem like something that has to be done. Make it something to look forward to. Don’t make a child do sit-ups. Instead, go outside together and play a game. A game of soccer, basketball, or tag all include exercise. Not only will you both get some much needed exercise, you will also have some great family time together.
Provide healthy snacks and water. Kids are going to eat and drink what is available. If chips and sugary soft drinks are available, they will always choose them. If apples and water are available, they will choose them. It is up to you to keep healthy snacks in your home.
Make healthy meals. It can be very tempting in today’s fast paced world to head over to the local fast food restaurant for dinner. You don’t have to cook and the kids are happy. When you do this, however, you are doing your kids a great injustice. Not only will their health suffer, they will gain weight which can cause a lifetime of problems for them on many different levels. Rather than head to the fast food place, go home and cook a nutritious meal. If time does not allow you to cook every day, make some meals ahead of time on your day off and pop them in the freezer.
Do not eliminate treats. Don’t completely eliminate fast food or treats from your child’s diet. The trick is to make those foods a special occasional treat rather than everyday fare. Rather than keeping ice cream in your freezer, go out for ice cream on occasion.
By following the above tips, your child will lose weight without pressure and without feeling a blow to his self-esteem. The changes you incorporate will slowly become a way of life for not only your child, but for your entire family, putting everyone on a path to health and fitness.
*Childhood obesity is at an epidemic level in America. Because of this First Lady Michelle Obama has made it one of her platforms to address the issue through her Let’s Move Campaign. Check out the website for additional tips and information.