Children today are bombarded with images of what beautiful people are supposed to look like. Just as adults are infatuated with Hollywood and the celebrity of having a nice body, children are not immune to the effects of how we classify the ideal body shape. Even children’s cartoons, movies, and video games portray the princess and hero as trim and attractive and the villain as overweight, ugly, and slow.
We cannot change the way that popular society associates value to a person. What we can do is instill a positive body image in our own children. Studies have shown that children who have positive body images are less at risk for developing eating disorders including anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge eating disorder. It is good that you want to help your child be healthier by losing weight, but you must be aware of the need to approach the subject with sensitivity so as to avoid serious eating and dieting issues.
Set realistic goals for your child
There is nothing wrong with a certain amount of fat. For many children it takes a while to lose fat that was necessary for them to have in the first years of life. As a child grows in height, they may become thinner. Do not be too quick to jump into a diet that your child does not need. Talk to your child’s doctor to determine the needs of your child. Set realistic goals for weight maintenance and loss. If your doctor suggests weight loss, set a goal to lose one pound a week. Make changes that your child can easily abide by and that they can carry with them throughout their life.
Choose healthy and nutritious foods
Helping a child lose weight does not have to involve a diet of any kind. Children are born with a more efficient metabolism rate than are adults. For the vast majority of children, when fed healthy foods, excess weight will be lost and vital nutrients will be received. Children should not have to go long periods of time without eating. It is ideal for a child to eat 3 small meals a day plus two snacks. Eating is healthy and necessary for your body. You can lose weight and still feel full; it just might take a while to get used to. Make sure that healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables are readily available. Fiber is an especially helpful nutrient because fiber helps the body feel fuller. Redefine for your children what dieting is and teach them to enjoy healthy foods.
Make the change as a family
You cannot expect your child to make serious lifestyle and dietary changes if you are not willing to do so yourself. Parents are a child’s greatest example; you need to be practicing what you preach and following the same dietary rules that you set for your children. Likewise, a family should eat and exercise together. Time together, practicing good eating principles and enjoying one another’s company as a family provides an overweight child with a group of people that he or she feels safe with. Oftentimes other children are critical and mean to a child who is different, in this case overweight. When a child feels loved, supported and welcomed at home, they are much less likely to suffer from serious eating or dieting issues and from issues of poor self esteem.
Make exercising fun
Exercising as a family can be fun! Taking family walks or bike rides builds important family relationships of trust and love. Make exercising fun by doing the things that your children enjoy. Enroll your children in community sports teams or visit the local recreation center often to take part in exciting activities. It is going to take work to get your children used to an active lifestyle, but kids are naturally playful and will eventually come around to the idea of having an enjoyable time exercising.