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Helping Your Overweight Child

29/06/2013 | Child Health, Nutrition, Room to Grow | by Catherine Godiva

If your child is overweight and suffering physically for mentally, as their parent you may feel frustrated that there are few things that you can do to help them. The good news is that there actually are quite a number of things that you can do as a parent to help your child to deal with their weight problem and also to curb it. Indeed, healthy eating habits definitely begin at home.

helping children with obesity

One of the first things that you should do as a parent is take the focus off of your obese child and instead focus on the entire family. What you want to do is create a supportive, loving environment where your child won’t be ashamed of their obesity problem and be more willing to talk openly about it. Also, sitting down together as a family to enjoy meals is extremely important and one of the best ways to make sure your child is eating correctly.

Children learn by seeing, hearing and witnessing what goes on around them. If you eat a healthy food, engage in regular exercise and live a relatively healthy lifestyle (were not saying you need to be a saint, but it helps) your child will see what you do and emulate your actions. On the other hand, if you smoke, eat fast food all the time, never purchase fresh fruits and vegetables and never exercise, your child will pick up those habits as well.

When it comes to eating most parents forget about the fact that what a child drinks can be just as unhealthy as the food they eat. The fact is, apple and orange juice can sometimes have more sugar and more empty calories than a small bowl of ice cream. Indeed, the vast majority of beverages available on the supermarket  shelves today are unhealthy as they contain an inordinate amount of sugar, chemicals, preservatives and high fructose corn syrup. Simply put, the very best beverage for your child hands-down is water. If you want to give your child the occasional soft drink or fruit juice, you should mix 50% water with their  juice to cut down on sugar content.

One thing that’s vital is to teach your children that they should only eat when they’re hungry and not eat just because they are bored or have nothing else to do. Some people also eat when they’re stressed (a habit that they probably picked up when they were children). When your child is asking for a snack, the first thing you should ask them is if they are truly hungry or just bored. If it’s the latter, you should just tell them to wait until suppertime or give them some type of task to do to take her mind off of food.

Exercise is also something that all children need but overweight children need even more. Exercising with your child and showing them find ways of getting activity is a great way to help them burn off extra calories and get their weight under control. Even children that don’t have a weight problem will benefit from a little extra exercise and activity so make sure that they’re getting enough by exercising with them.

This might sound a little silly but in actual scientific studies it was proven that if you use smaller plates people will eat less. In your home, if you’re using extra-large plates and filling them completely, you’ve probably given your child 40 or 50% more than they actually need to be eating at one meal. Using smaller plates will help to cut down on overeating and, if your child finishes and is still hungry, they can always go back for seconds.

One last tip is simply to help your children to relax, get them to bed on time and make sure that they get enough sleep. The reason for this is that studies have shown that the more sleep a child gets and the less stress that they have in their life the fewer problems they will have with obesity as children and as adults.

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