The key to helping your child beat obesity is to develop healthier habits for your whole family. Your child will not succeed at losing weight if he is munching carrot sticks while everyone else slurps chocolate milk shakes! In addition, change your habits slowly so that everyone has time to adjust to the new routines. Specific areas to focus on include better eating habits and more physical activity, as the only way to lose weight is to reduce the number of calories eaten and to increase physical activity.
Better eating habits
- Plan your meals in advance and make better food selections with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and natural foods.
- Avoid junk food and processed foods.
- Eat at home instead of stopping at fast food restaurants.
- Make meals a family activity. Eat together at the table, rather than around the television. Work on eating more slowly.
- Serve smaller portions. At home, eat off a small plate rather than a large dinner plate. At restaurants, plan to bring home half of your meal for another time.
- Know what your child eats at school and friends’ houses. Talk about making healthy choices.
- Do not use food as a reward for good behavior.
- Limit snacking, especially snacking in front of the TV.
- Teach your children to eat only when they’re hungry, not because they’re bored, lonely, etc.
- Don’t require your children to clean their plates. If they are full, let them stop eating.
- Don’t completely eliminate all sweets and snacks from your children’s diets. Let them have the occasional treat so they don’t binge on forbidden foods.
- Take your children with you when you go grocery shopping so they can learn how to make good food choices
- Encourage children to eat breakfast every day.
- Limit sugary beverages.
Increased physical activity
- Set a good example by being physically active yourself. Take a bike ride, go to the tennis courts, or enjoy an evening walk together as a family.
- Limit your child’s overall screen time.
- Don’t let your children have televisions in their bedrooms.
- Choose active video games that get your children moving. Newer games let players dance, bowl, play tennis, and even hula hoop.
- Encourage children to be physically active every day, whether through an organized sports team, a trip to the park, a walk around the block, or playing in the yard.
Weight problems can be hard to fix, but by partnering with your child, your whole family will enjoy a healthier life.
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