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10 Tips for Parents of Overweight Children

By: DaveDePew - April 6, 2007
Children eat what they get! If it crosses their lips it comes from you, a friend or the school. As parents we take the ultimate responsibility for the health of our children.

It is up to us to set a good example. Kids don’t listen to us; they watch us and follow what they see! Don’t spend one more minute selling yourself the lie that you can talk them into eating well. You can not trust your kids to eat what is good for them. Our kids will choose taste every time.

It starts with how we look at food. If we are using food as a reward for good behavior what are we telling our kids? What about using food as a punishment? “Mommy is not going to give you any desert unless you finish all your food”. Are we telling them that having candy and sweets are better than providing their body with proper nourishment? Raising our kids this way will result in kids who will eat more sweets and junk food every chance they get!

So what is a parent to do? How can we modify the behavior of our kids? Many parents are rightly concerned about their child's weight and how it affects them both physically and socially now and into adulthood. As a parent we want the best for our children and so we look for specific answers for prevention and treatment. Unfortunately, I don’t have all the answers, but I do have some tips that I feel will make a huge difference in the lives of many kids. Here are my 10 tips for every parent to help their kids stay healthy and drop the fat.

1. Provide a Healthy Breakfast Every Day.
It is important for the health and the growth of your child that they have a healthy breakfast every morning. Every breakfast should consist of healthy carbohydrates, low fat or lean proteins, and healthy fats.


Some healthy breakfast meals:

Egg White Omelet- Made with egg whites, filled with chopped veggies, salsa, and low fat shredded cheese.

Scrambled eggs and A Bagel- Scrambled Whole Eggs or Egg Whites with half a whole grain Bagel (wheat or rye). Add some low fat cream chess or some natural peanut butter.


Here are some great foods to build meals from:


Proteins

Chicken
Turkey
Fish
Seafood
Eggs
Low Fat Cottage cheese
Lean Beef
Whey Protein Powder

Carbohydrates

Fruits
Vegetables
Beans
Whole wheat pasta
Brown Rice or Wild Rice
Whole grain breads
Sweet Potatoes and Yams

Fats

Olive oil
EFA’s
Avocado
Nuts
Low Fat Cheese
Natural Peanut Butter


By taking the time to provide them with the right foods every morning they will have a more energized day and over time will learn to make healthier choices.

2. Don’t Drink the Calories.
As a parent we are tempted to grab the quick juice boxes and sodas, but these types of drinks add lots of unnecessary calories everyday that are void of any nutritional value. In addition it is speculated than many of the ingredients in these products are chemically causing our children to eat more and crave sugar.

Replace regular soda with plain water or diluted 100% Natural Juice that has no additives. It is also a good idea that your kids have 1-2 glasses of low fat milk each day.


3. Let Them Snack.
Kids like to snack. As a parent we should encourage them to snack, but as we allow them the ability to snack we must provide healthy options. Options like whole grain cereals with low-fat milk, whole grain bread, fruits and low fat cheese sticks.


4. Have Frozen Fruit for Snacks.
If your kids like frozen treats you can likely make a big hit with some frozen fruits. Freezing things like grapes, bananas, melons and all sorts of berries can be a great treat. Serve up some frozen strawberries topped with low-fat Cool Whip.

Another tip is to dip and then freeze. Start by placing the fruit on a Popsicle stick or tooth pick and then lightly dip the fruits in a dark chocolate or even better a low-fat Jell-O Chocolate pudding. Freeze and serve!


5. Limit the availability of junk food.
To limit the availability of junk food you must always provide your kids with healthy options. Have the healthy stuff always in reach. The more you can do to keep the junk out of the house or out of reach the better, but don't start things out by forbidding any foods. It is best if you simply limit the bad foods.

If you have tried the frozen fruit options and they are not working as well as you hope or the children will not stop asking for the real stuff than you might want to keep a small supply of low-fat ice-cream bars or cones available.

The last thing you want is a mutiny on your hands. An occasional Ice Cream Sandwich will be fine.


6. Put the Healthy Stuff Up Front.
Take a lesson from the grocery store. The Grocery stores always put the tasty stuff up front in our reach because they know we are more likely to buy it then. Keep a variety of healthy foods at the front of the refrigerator so the kids can grab them when they want a snack.

Here are some healthy options:

Cottage cheese with Fruit and Nuts- Some low fat cottage cheese with fresh fruit and some raw unsweetened almonds.

Fruit Smoothie- Mix your favorite whey protein with some low fat milk, some frozen blue berries, straw berries or a banana with some EFAs.


7. Always Have a Fresh Fruit Bowl In Arms Reach.
In place of a cookie jar always keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen table or counter top so the kids are likely to reach for a healthy snack instead of grabbing something they don’t need.


8. Make it at Home.
As Americans we are eating out way too much. When dining out at restaurants we tend to eat way too much and more of the foods we shouldn’t be eating. A majority of the time the foods we eat, even when we are away from home, should be the foods we make in our home. Prepare sandwiches, salads and homemade soups to have on hand as regular snacks between meals.

Here are some healthy dinner options:

Chicken Salad- Boiled, Steamed or grilled chicken, tossed in a salad with fresh veggies and a dressing on the side for dipping. Make salads more interesting by adding fruits like grapes, sections of mandarin orange, chunks of pineapple, and sliced peaches.

Kabobs-chicken, beef, or shrimp grilled to perfection with your choice of veggies. Place your Kabobs over some Brown Rice and some beans.

Chicken Wrap- Boiled, Steamed or grilled chicken, wrapped in a whole grain soft tortilla with peppers and tomatoes sautéed in olive oil, red or black beans, and a little shredded cheese and avocado.


9. Don’t Make Them Clean Their Plate.
Don't force your child to eat everything on their plate if they are no longer hungry. It is one thing if you think your child just doesn’t want to take the time to eat and completely another if you are threatening to punish them if they don’t eat everything.

A child's appetite will vary based on activity and growth spurts. Sometimes they will have less of an appetite and at other times they will eat extra to make up.


10. Get Outside!
Limit the time that the family spends indoors watching TV and get more active. It is important to plan fun activities with the family like taking them to the park to play some sports as a family, go to a community pool, taking a walk or going on a family camping trip for some hiking, back packing, mountain biking and fishing.

I sincerely hope that you can find help in these tips. Childhood obesity is a major issue. As a parent if we are not part of the solution we are as much a part of the problem. The junk foods and the lack of physical activity are dangerously affecting their health and will also have major social consequences that will continue into adulthood.

As a society and as parents it is our responsibility to create and implement prevention and early treatment programs in order to wipe out the obesity epidemic.

REFERENCES

Maffeis C. (Apr.1999). Childhood obesity: the genetic-environmental interface. Baillière's best practice & research. Clinical endocrinology & metabolism.13(1):31-46.

Villani, S. M.D.. (April 2001). Impact of media on children and adolescents: a 10-year review of the research. Journal of the AmericanAcademy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 40(4):392-401

S. L. Gortmaker, A. Must, A. M. Sobol, K. Peterson, G. A. Colditz and W. H. Dietz, (April 1996) Television viewing as a cause of increasing obesity among children in the United States. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1996 Apr;150(4):356-62.

Campbell K, Waters E, O'Meara S, Kelly S, Summerbell C. (2002). Interventions for preventing obesity in children. Presented at The Australian Association for Exercise and Sports Science Inaugural National Conference Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002;(2):CD001871.

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DaveDePew



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