The rate of obesity among children is alarming and this trend is fast on the rise. As home cooked nutritious meals have given way to store bought, 5-minute fast foods, children are being seriously affected by this silent killer. Your child’s weight matters, because it can affect their health now and in the future because overweight children are more likely to grow up into overweight adults. Here are a few ways to help you overweight child cope and also lose the weight:
Avoid Verbal Abuse
If you think that making derogatory comments about your child’s appearance will shame him/her into losing weight, you’re wrong. You will cause anger, hurt and resentment. Worse than that, you’ll condition your child to develop negative labels (“I’m just a pig,” “I’ll never be good at sports,” or “Nobody will want to date me when I grow up,”) that could be lasting.
Introduce Positive Labels
Don’t you think your child wants to feel better, get back energy, vitality and self-esteem? Instead of providing criticism and judgment, you can provide help and encouragement. Start offering positive labels: “I can achieve whatever I set out to do,” or “I am loved and valued.”
Look at Why They Eat
Instead of looking at what your child eats, look into why he/she eats. Childhood obesity can be a symptom of stress. If your child is self-medicating with food, what is being medicated? Adults often turn to drugs and/or alcohol to self-medicate when they are looking to fill a void or cope with stress. Children often turn to food.
Look at Your Lifestyle
If your lifestyle is contributing to your child’s obesity, change it. If you keep junk food in the house, stop. If your schedule is so hectic that your family is forced to eat high-fat, low-nutrition meals like fast food, you need to slow down. If your family life is centred around sedentary activities like watching TV, make an effort to include some form of physical activity in your child’s life.
If your child is overweight, there are simple steps you can take, with support if you want it, to help your child move towards a healthy weight.
- Help your child get slim
Help your child lose the weight or make sure he or she doesn’t gain more by encouraging them to partake in physical activity. Find something they’ll enjoy and make it seem like fun instead of hard work.
- Get healthy as a family
A healthy, balanced diet and plenty of physical activity will lead to a healthy weight for your child. Making changes to your family’s lifestyle can make a real difference to your child’s weight. These changes work best, and are easiest, when the whole family joins in. Eat regular meals, together and without distractions (such as TV) as a great first step towards a healthier diet. Cook yourself rather than relying on ready-made meals to help you to lower the fat and sugar content in your meals
Aim to reduce the amount of time your child spends on inactive hobbies, such as watching television and playing video games. It’s also important to help your child develop a positive body image and good self-esteem. Habits in childhood will remain as they grow into adults, so praise them when they try healthier foods or when they exchange a sedentary activity for an active one.
- How can school can help your child?
The school that your child attends should support you in helping your child to achieve a healthy weight. All schools should provide opportunities for physical activity, and healthy food at lunch time. If your child is overweight, talk to your child’s teachers about your plans to help your child slim down, and how the school can support this. However make sure they know you don’t expect them to punish your child or make fun of him/her just in case the teachers get overzealous.
Above all, find a way to make sure that your child knows that all you’re doing is out of love. Be as supportive as you can as this will give better and quicker results.