I found that if you struggle with obesity then it is likely that some other members of your family may also be experiencing the same struggle. I think it is safe to assume that if care givers are not educated in what it takes to lead a healthy lifestyle then they may be guiding the rest of your family down the same path. Perhaps this is not true in your case & you are merely in search of solid principles in order to guide a loved one.
WEIGHT LOSS FOR CHILDREN, SAFETY FIRST!
In the case of children it is important that you take special care & consult a pediatrician in order to conduct the weight loss effort in a safe way. A medical examination will be most productive as pediatricians know what to test for, also considering that the obesity may be caused or complicated by factors other than a poor diet & inactive lifestyle, such as a hormonal imbalance or other deficiencies.
The moment you know exactly what you are dealing with, it will be far less complicated to put a plan together & know that you are setting yourself up to achieve results, especially approaching it from a scientific angle. I propose that you stay away from placing your child on a generic diet as children have specific dietary needs! Also, stay away from diet fads as most “lose weight quick” products have not undergone clinical trials and there is no telling what harm it could cause, especially in the case of a child!
The pediatrician may be specific in certain areas and may propose a diet & exercise program. My feeling is that the basic aspects of weight loss still apply and I think making some fundamental changes to your child’s eating habits may go a long way in getting results!
I can remember being raised on good old-fashioned wholesome South African cooking. I have fond memories of how my Mother really went out of her way to make sure that her family were looked after well in every regard, which I am very grateful for to this day. I have the best Mom!
I can also remember that I had to eat my plate of food before leaving the table as I was a growing boy that needed the nutrients in order to grow, had to have three square meals a day, hungry or not! I experienced a repeat of this Motherly love again years later when I got married and accepted it for what it is, nothing wrong with it as this is what Mothers do!
WE LEARN FROM OUR PARENTS, the good & the BAD!
My Mother learned the art of cooking from her Mother & by further experimenting with recipes, in a time when healthy eating habits went off the road completely considering the sudden convenience of ready-made / easy to prepare foods, during the baby boomer era in the late 1940’s & into the 50’s.
Looking back now these foods were not as healthy as everyone were made to believe as with convenience came a long list of ingredients & additives, that have been proven in recent studies to be detrimental to your health. Since those years & perhaps of recent, people have become more aware of healthy living started questioning the status quo.
What you need to take from this is that children learn habits from their parents and will repeat if not questioned. It is fair to say that you cannot blame children for picking up weight when they have to go through the above. They are taking what you are learning them to be the truth.
HELP YOUR CHILD MAKE HEALTHIER CHOICES
I believe in showing my children what is bad for them and what is perhaps a healthier alternative in each case. I also believe that it is not realistic to think that you will be able to change their eating habits to a strict healthy way of eating and have it be sustainable, as you don’t have control over what they eat when they are not with you.
What I am aiming for with my son & daughter is to rather apply a 80 / 20 approach in that I don’t force them to eat clean but rather substitute for healthier alternatives most of the time and then consistently condition them on eating clean, in order for it to hopefully become a way of life for them. If they want something that I don’t agree with then that should be the exception – help them understand this concept!
I also don’t buy foods that I consider a bad choice as I know that once it enters my home it is far more difficult to refrain from eating it. When I buy something that I know is not healthy then it falls into the exception category and I have full control over it as I am the educated parent.
GOOD HABITS YOU CAN IMPLEMENT IMMEDIATLY
- There is a lot of sugar in soft drinks & certain fruit juices. If it is difficult to replace this with diluted fruit juice (mixed with water) or just water then at lease settle for sugar free versions of the same soft drinks. I know that the sugar free versions are also not necessarily perfect but at least it is the difference between 35 grams of sugar per 330ml (8,75 teaspoons) as opposed to 0 grams of sugar
- When considering candy then you also have sugar free alternatives which are perhaps more expensive. In this case you can consider adding fruit into their lunch boxes as the fiber is great for them. Just be aware that certain fruits have much higher sugar levels than others. Pears, Watermelon, pineapple, raisins, mangoes, prunes & bananas are listed as containing high levels of sugar.
- Replace refined grains such as white bread & white rice for whole wheat bread & brown rice. Quinoa is a great alternative and also has the benefit of containing high levels of protein.
- Try to avoid crisps, cookies & any cakes. Moderation is key!
- Investigate the food pyramid in order to ensure that your child’s portion of food at main meal times mainly consist of vegetables with some meat and not the other way around.
- Studies conducted in China showed that by predominantly eating a diet of vegetables with little meat is the main reason why obesity & heart disease was virtually non-existent until the Chinese also started eating like the western world.
- Make sure that you understand what a child of a certain age should consume when it comes to quantity. A pediatrician or dietician will be able to provide you with this information
- Also, don’t force children to eat & if you find that your child is actually eating too little then rather consult a pediatrician as opposed to enticing them to eat foods that are bad for them.
- Help your child become more active by going for walks, go biking as a family outing or motivating & assisting your child to take up something that he or she is interested in. There are many options to get them moving
- Manage activities which promote sedentary behavior such as watching TV or gaming
Provide your child with an education on healthy eating habits as it is worth its weight in gold. This will help them grow into healthy young adults & with the knowledge / principles that you instilled, hopefully go on to teach their children about healthier options! Start a new cycle.
I hope these pointers help & please let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.
All the best!