According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in three children in America are now overweight or obese. To help protect and prevent your precious son or daughter from succumbing to body image issues, bullying, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, hormonal imbalances, some cancers, and potentially bariatric procedures, and the devastating emotional and physical effects of all these illnesses, recognizing a need for change in your child's lifestyle is the first step. Then it's time to take action. Here are five great ways to get and keep your child's weight in check:
1. Buy and cook his food
Buy whole, unmodified foods and cook it yourself. This is the only way to know exactly what is and is not in the food he eats. You can pre-make a week's worth of breakfast boxes that he can take on his way to school if you're short on time in the mornings. Send him to school with a healthy, balanced lunch full of delicious vegetables, minimally and naturally processed meat or a vegan alternative, whole grains full of energy sustaining complex carbs, and fresh or dried fruit for a sweet snack. Skip the sodas and fruit juice, and go for sugar-free flavored sparkling water or iced tea sweetened with stevia or monk fruit extract.
The home-cooked healthful meal plan goes for dinner as well. Buy whole chicken or meat or vegan products in bulk and make several ready-to-serve meals for the week. Always have fresh and dried fruit and nuts (if he doesn't have an allergy) on hand for snacking. Keep store-bought cookies, ice cream and cakes away from the dinner table. Those are special occasion foods, and one serving once in a while will do. Instead, find low calorie, low carb, low sugar, low fat, and vegan alternatives for your favorite comfort foods.
2. Make her food choices (for now)
Although your adolescents and teens yearn for freedom and the room to make their own decisions in life, do not give them money for food or snacks; they won't make good choices, especially in school. Most schools have a convenience store full of mostly junk-type foods. The temptation is too great. Once she proves she can handle the responsibility of making proper choices for her health, loosen the reigns just a little.
Any issue in your family is a family issue. You child's weight is a result of external and internal influences. Your young child did not have control of his food choices, and was forced to eat what you bought. So buy better, healthier foods for the entire family and the entire family will be healthier. This will also keep him from feeling singled out and ostracized. Family changes make kids feel supported and loved.
4. Make exercise a family priority
Exercise is absolutely necessary in this sedentary time. Modern conveniences make it almost impossible to get enough energy expenditure in your daily routine. So join a family gym, take a ball outside, walk around the park, jog around a lake, go to the YMCA, or take dance, martial arts, aerobics, yoga or any kind of class involving physical activity with your child. Or let your teen go it alone if they please. Buying a gaming system and video games that require movement will also help, and are tons of fun.
You should see a physician and/or pediatrician before starting any exercise regimen as a rule, however if you make all of these changes in your family routine and your child is still struggling with her weight, it may be time to seek medical advice specific to weight and metabolic issues. Your child may have hormonal or other imbalances preventing her from losing weight and causing other upsets in her system. Allergies, sensitivities and intolerances to certain foods or chemicals in her life should also be avoided.
Change can be difficult, especially when what brings joy or eases stress is ripped away from you. But the challenges that come with obesity and weight issues are well worth the risk of missing out on a favorite meal. When you make these changes for you and your child, not only will your lives change, but your taste buds will too. And soon you and your kids will be craving that healthy snack like it's a piece of cake!