Most pediatricians agree that it is not healthy for children to be participating in radical weight loss diets, especially weight loss methods that adults may use medication for. Diet pills are never an option for a child. The best way for a child to diet is by eating nutritious foods and exercising. Children need to eat, and should not be starved because their bodies are still growing and developing. Children need nutrients that come from a variety of foods. Thus diets that exclude or limit certain foods disproportionately may do more harm than good when it comes to a child’s health.
Set realistic goals for your child
Your children are not just short adults; they cannot be expected to stick to a strict diet the way that an adult can; they are not supposed to. It is better to start by helping to maintain their weight rather than to jumping right in to take off those pounds. As your children grow they may become leaner with height. If you still feel that your child is at an unhealthy weight and you want him or her to lose weight, losing one pound a week is a good goal. Do not expect your children to do in a month what it takes some people to do in a year. Improving overall health is often a long process if it is done right. You are changing the lifestyle of your child; you cannot expect a flawless transition from a sedentary lifestyle to an active lifestyle over night. You must work towards a small amount of consistent progress until the goal is met. You do not want to discourage your child at the onset of making changes to their diet. Make it fun! Do it together and make sure that every day can be a little bit better in some way than the day before.
Choose healthy and nutritious foods
It is best for children to eat three small meals with two snacks during the day. Eating regularly helps to fight hunger pangs which lead to unhealthy food choices or binging. Going long periods of time without eating, or starving yourself, can do more harm than good to anyone’s body. Instead, provide your kids with easy access to the kinds of foods that they can eat without worry of being unhealthy. Make fruits, vegetables, and water available at all times. Offer lower fat foods like 1% instead of 2% milk and low-fat yogurts and cheeses. Transition from the fattier foods that your kids may be used to by offering them popcorn (hold the butter) or pretzels instead of chips and cookies. You do not have to transition to an all tofu diet overnight. This will never work. Give up one unhealthy food a week, and replace it with something better. Eventually you will turn your diet completely around.
Read food labels and talk to your child’s doctor
Ask your doctor or a dietician what you need to be looking for when you look at food labels. They will most likely tell you to look for foods that are high in fiber and low in fat. Generally the rule with switching a toddler from whole milk to skim milk is at age 2. However, some children may need to stay on the whole milk longer. This is just one reason why it is so important to involve your doctor or dietician in the decisions that you make in the diet choices of your children.
Do not single one child out from the group just because of his weight. Improved diet and eating habits is something that all of us need. Get the entire family involved in the process. Do not keep junk food in the house at all. Encourage everyone to eat healthier foods. Provide a lot of encouragement to all of your children. Do not let one child feel like he is the source of a problem or the reason for all of the changes.