What to Do When Your Child Is Overweight
With your busy day to day schedule with work and things to do at home, you often don’t notice some of the things that are right in front of you every day. At times, you may sit back and suddenly realize that your child has grown eight inches taller or that his/her hair has gotten longer. It’s often little things like these that happen each day that seem to go unnoticed for periods of time. Perhaps you’ve been starting to notice that your child has been putting on a little extra weight, or maybe you’ve noticed it for some time now and it’s become a cause for concern. If your child has developed an overweight problem there are some steps that you can take to help them to start getting their weight back under control.
To start with, take your child to your family doctor for a routine checkup. Your doctor can determine whether your child has an under functioning thyroid or any other medical problem that may be causing the weight gain. Once cleared of any medical conditions, the doctor may suggest a certain type of weight loss diet and or exercise program for your child to follow.
At home, you can start to encourage your child to develop healthier eating habits. You can buy more fruits for snacking rather than the usual high fat ones found in the snack isle. You should even let him/her pick which fruits you buy so you know they are ones that they will eat. Also, rather than buying soda for your child to drink, buy sports drinks like powerade or various fruit juices. Also, try to get your child in the habit of drinking more water, and use the sports drinks and fruit juices for occasions like lunch or dinner time.
Plan healthy meals every day, and plan out your child’s portions wisely, and make sure your child never skips breakfast. Skipping breakfast can make your child hungry and looking for less healthy things to eat later in the day. Also try to avoid eating fast food as often as possible. Eating healthy meals at home can help your child start to learn to develop better eating habits. If it becomes a regular household routine, he/she will be more likely to “go with the flow” and start to enjoy eating different healthy foods.
Never use food as a reward for your child to get them to eat healthy. By telling your child that you will give him/her a slice of cake for desert if they eat all of their vegetables, you are in effect telling them that the cake has a higher value than the vegetables. The cake becomes the “pot of gold” you get for reaching the end of the rainbow.
Another thing you can and should do is to encourage your child to get more physically active. Encourage him/her to join an activity at school such as basketball or track. Find out what activities are offered through the community such as swimming or volleyball, and try to find one that your child might enjoy.
Make time to go on bike rides with your child or to take walks through the local park or hiking trail with them and make these things a weekly event you do with them on a regular basis. Have your child help you wash the car every weekend. Give them some household chores to do and make these chores their responsibility every week. The idea is just to have them doing things that will keep them active and moving.
If a reasonable amount of time has gone by after you’ve changed your child’s eating habits and gotten him/her more active and you don’t see them reaching a healthy weight, you may want to consider a weight control treatment program. Many of these programs will have a variety of people on staff who are experts in specific areas such as doctors, registered dietitians and fitness trainers. They can collectively asses your child’s individual needs and formulate an overall plan to best deal with the problem. They can also help you learn how to keep up the healthy eating and exercise habits for your child after the program ends. Your family doctor can refer you to a treatment center that will best suit your child’s needs.
Remember that the first step is simply the fact that you recognize if there is a problem with your child’s weight. Being in denial about your child’s weight problem if there is an obvious problem existing only serves to lead your child to unwanted, potentially dangerous health problems as time goes by. Taking steps to help your child with this sooner, leads to a healthier life for your child later.