How can I help my child lose weight?

The obesity epidemic that has plagued American adults for years is now also a serious issue among children. Children as young as 3 years old are obese. It’s never too late to start eating healthy, though! Here are some tips for both parents and children that will help your child lose weight:

Shopping tips for parents. This is the first step towards healthy eating at home. Remember, if you don’t buy it, it can’t be eaten.

  1. Don’t take the child with you on food shopping trips. Not only will this cut down on junk food purchases, you’ll save money too.
  2. Do your grocery shopping after a meal when you’re not hungry.
  3. Shop from a list – no impulse buying.
  4. Buy more low-calorie foods such as fruits and vegetables.
  5. Buy fewer high calorie foods in smaller quantities.

Pantry tips:

  1. Keep high calorie foods out of sight. Better yet, don’t buy them at all.
  2. Low calorie foods should be kept in plain sight and easily accessible. For example, have plenty of fresh carrots, celery, cucumber, broccoli, and cauliflower already washed and cut in the refrigerator for an easy, quick snack.

Meal serving tips for parents:

  1. Serve dinner “family-style” and let each family member serve themselves.
  2. Use smaller salad plates to eat dinner rather than the 12 inch dinner plates.
  3. Encourage conversation at meal times. This will slow down the rate of eating.
  4. Refrain from commenting on how much or how little your child is eating at meals.
  5. Don’t say anything about “cleaning your plate.”

More tips for parents:

  1. Don’t use food as a reward or punishment.
  2. Maintain a list of activities, privileges, and small rewards to reinforce your child and praise her efforts to make healthy choices.
  3. Pack a lunch to take to school whenever possible. Choose at least one fruit and vegetable to take.
  4. Discourage buying snacks at school as these tend to be sodas, chips, or candy bars. Instead, stow a granola bar in the backpack for a snack if they get hungry.

Meal time tips for children:

  1. When you eat, eat only at the kitchen table.
  2. Never eat while doing anything else, such as computer games, TV watching, etc.
  3. Eat only when you are truly hungry; try not to eat because you are bored.
  4. Chose a small healthy snack such as low-fat yogurt, fresh fruits or vegetables, or a granola bar.
  5. Put down the fork or spoon between bites. This slows down how fast you eat.
  6. You do not have to clean your plate! Listen to what your stomach is telling you, if you feel full then stop eating.
  7. Keep a food diary for a week. This information can be valuable in assessing and changing eating patterns.

Exercise tips for families:

  1. Set a goal to exercise for 1 hour most days per week.
  2. Consider buying a pedometer (about $15) and setting goals to exceed a certain hundred number of steps per day. A good goal to start at is 900 steps every day. See if you can reach 10,000!
  3. Write down your daily exercise in an exercise diary.
  4. Limit screen time on the TV, video games, or computer games to a maximum of 1 hour per day.
  5. Take the TV out of the family room and move it to a room that is a little less comfortable. Some families move the TV to a small stuffy room to prevent over watching. Other families have moved the TV couch out of the room so the only place to watch TV is sitting on the floor.

If you have any more questions or are interested in taking additional steps toward helping your child have a healthier lifestyle, schedule an appointment with the dietitian today.