Should you encourage an overweight child to diet?

October 17, 2018

It's a touchy subject.  What to do...

I would not suggest giving kids or adolescents a diet plan, mentioning their need to do a diet, or have them counting their food.  ⛔ EVER.  I also suggest not restricting or labeling a food as good or bad.  Regardless if your doctor advises your child lose weight, these are my tips:

𝐑𝐞𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐰 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐞𝐧𝐯𝐢𝐫𝐨𝐧𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 - Unless they are nearing adulthood, you are likely the one doing the shopping and feeding your child.  Is your pantry or fridge full of chips, candy, energy drinks, and juice or soda?  Instead have snack-able options and veggies at the front of the fridge and fruit on the kitchen counter within eyesight.  This doesn't mean you need to force your child to eat carrots or eradicate every snack in your house, but kids will eat what is available.  If candy, chips, and soda are always available, well...  Think you can hide it and they won't see you eating or drinking it?  You know your kids are smarter than that! :-D

𝗗𝗼𝗻'𝘁 𝗯𝗲 𝗮 𝘀𝗵𝗼𝗿𝘁 𝗼𝗿𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝗰𝗼𝗼𝗸 - You probably used to eat what your parents were having, right? At least for dinner. Give children a choice or a say in that or even better let them help you cook, but don't make family dinner then let the child refuse to eat it and then dictate a special meal on the side.

𝗟𝗲𝗮𝗱 𝗯𝘆 𝗲𝘅𝗮𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗲 - When it comes to food, it is especially true that kids learn by example and carry that with them in to adulthood.  If you cook, they will cook.  If you eat out or get take-out less, so will they.  𝐴 𝑟𝑒𝑐𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑠𝑡𝑢𝑑𝑦 𝑠ℎ𝑜𝑤𝑒𝑑 learning some cooking at a young age led to healthier food choices later in life.

𝗕𝗲𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗻𝗲𝗴𝗮𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝘁𝗮𝗹𝗸 - Saying things to yourself like, "Ugh I'm so fat, I need to go on a diet" or "I look gross in this bikini" can immediately lead to your child checking themselves in the mirror and your language can become their language.  𝐴𝑛𝑜𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑟𝑒𝑐𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑠𝑡𝑢𝑑𝑦 𝑓𝑜𝑢𝑛𝑑 parents encouraging their children to diet led to greater obesity, binging, crash dieting, and lower body satisfaction later in life.

𝗕𝗲 𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲 - Do things as a family like riding bikes or going for walks after dinner.  Reserve your exercise times as well and make sure it is non-negotiable.  Kids will see that and recognize the importance and carry that with them for life.

𝗜𝗻 𝗦𝘂𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗿𝘆 - Do NOT mention weight and definitely do not tell your child they need to go on a diet.  Be active as a family.  Praise healthy choices and don't nag over not-so-healthy ones.  Encourage healthy options and make sure they are readily available. It's still ok to have treats, just like its ok sometimes for you. You don't want them to become forbidden fruit, just make sure treats remain as treats and not the norm.

👨‍👨‍👦‍👦  Kids are small people, so just like with us there is no magic solution to weight loss.  It is up to parents to instill healthy habits and healthy mindsets about food and exercise that will set them up for their best health later in life.  💪

*This is my amazing alumni client and mom, Stephanie, doing her workout at home: pushups with her daughter on her back! <3




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