According to the Center for Disease Control, the problem of childhood obesity has increased to nearly epidemic proportions. In the last twenty years there has been an alarming increase in the numbers of states with a serious childhood obesity problem, and this trend seems to be affecting ever younger children. If you are mom to an overweight child, you worry that habits established now will make their life more difficult later. You worry about how to help them be more healthy. You struggle to balance their likes and a more nutritious diet.
When the Childhood Obesity problem hits home
Recently a mom of twin boys wrote me a letter. When her boys were young they were picky eaters with only a few foods that they enjoyed. Although mom knew that a diet of pop tarts and french fries wasn’t the best, she indulged them rather than listen to them cry. But now that they were becoming older she realized that she needed to find a way to help them learn to enjoy a better diet. Did I have ideas to help?
Another mom wrote in about her ten year old daughter who was overweight and depressed, and was a target of bullies at school. As she became more withdrawn she used food to help herself feel better, and mom asked for help in finding a way to help her daughter.
I receive so many requests for help from parents who are worried because their children are overweight. Childhood obesity has become a major problem, and parents are anxious to find a solution.
Childhood Obesity is a family problem – with a family solution
Take a look at what, and how, the whole family eats. If your child has grown up watching you snack throughout the day, drink soda and regularly stop for fast food, it is likely that he will simply copy your eating habits. Most parents don’t begin to make a change until at least one child in the family develops a serious enough weight problem to get their attention. But it is never too late to start a healthy lifestyle!
- Have an age-appropriate sit down conversation with your child about the changes you all are going to make so the whole family can become more healthy.
- Have healthy snacks available, and let your child see you eating them too!
- Cut out the fast food and soda.
- If your child tends to have only a few foods that he likes, help him explore new tastes and textures. Involve him in meal planning. Let him participate in discovering what it is about certain foods that makes them unhealthy.
- Explore activities with your child that give them exercise and that they might enjoy. Swimming is a low-impact way to get some great exercise, and is something that you can experience with your child. Walking is good too, and doesn’t cost a thing!
- Use something other than food as a reward for good behavior.
- Reach out to other parents who are also helping their overweight children become healthier. Share ideas and support each other.
- Don’t become obsessed with the scales, but don’t ignore them either.
- When you talk about the new lifestyle changes you’re all making together, be sure you give your child an opportunity to tell you how he feels about himself.
- The internet is a fantastic resource. Join a recipe club or a meal planning site. Here are a few that my clients have used successfully: Meal Planning Made Simple
Childhood Obesity doesn’t have to be a permanent problem
Rather than getting overwhelmed, choose to see your situation instead as a fantastic wake up call. Something that got your attention enough that now you’re willing to make a change. Eating habits and exercising habits can feel hard to change, but it just takes some determination and being willing to develop a new way of eating – and of thinking about food. When you are willing to explore new ways of eating and exercising, you will be able to encourage your child to develop those good habit too. Start today to make the changes necessary so one day soon you can say, childhood obesity used to be a problem in our family, but not any more!