Kids' weight loss is an important issue in America and around the world today. More and more children are overweight or obese, or at risk of becoming overweight, which in turn puts them at risk for a variety of conditions down the road such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
Talking About Kids' Weight Loss
No parent wants to talk to his or her child about being overweight or needing to go on a diet. Such talk sounds like a value judgment, as if the child did something wrong. It is important, therefore, to approach kids' weight loss from a loving perspective-there's nothing wrong with the child, but that doesn't mean he or she can't be healthier.
One of the best ways to encourage kids' weight loss is to be a good model yourself. Try to eat a balanced diet, especially in front of your kids, and encourage them to exercise by being active yourself.
If your child isn't the only one who could stand to lose a few pounds, make dieting a family affair. It's a good idea for the whole family to develop more healthy eating habits so the diet doesn't feel like punishment to the child.
Even if the dietary changes are going to affect everyone in the house, it is important to talk to your child about why the changes are being made and what you as a family are going to do to get healthier. Keeping the lines of communication open is important so that your child feels like he or she can talk to you when things get difficult.
How to Help Your Child Lose Weight
Kids' weight loss might mean incredibly dramatic changes in the diet. It takes 3,500 calories to make or lose a pound, so you have to either eat 3,500 less calories or burn 3,500 extra calories in order to lose a pound, or engage in a plan that combines the two approaches. To lose a pound a week, that means cutting 500 calories a day (or burning more calories to get to a net loss of 500 calories a day).
It may sound awfully intense, but to lose a pound every two weeks, you'd only have to cut or burn 250 extra calories a day. That's basically a candy bar or a couple of sodas. Just getting your family to snack better and move more may be all you need to get back on track. Losing a pound every two weeks would lead to a weight loss of 26 pounds a year, which is significant.
Other changes that might be helpful include switching to low-fat dairy products, using diet soda or cutting soda from the diet entirely, reducing the consumption of fruit juice and going for smaller portion sizes when possible. Revamping favorite recipes to be lower in calories and fat is also a great way to discreetly reduce calories.
If you need more than these basic changes to jumpstart kids' weight loss, try putting yourself in more control of what your child eats. Make sure everyone leaves the house having had a good breakfast, and pack your child's lunch with healthy choices for lunch and snacks.
If you eat out a lot, try to make more meals at home. Include fruits, vegetables and whole grains and you're bound to get a healthier meal than you may from a restaurant. You can also control portion sizes this way, save money and have a chance to spend more time together as a family.
Cut Calories, Don't Count Them
A common piece of advice when it comes to kids' weight loss is to not try to count calories. It's too difficult for either you or your child to keep track of everything that was eaten when you aren't together all the time.
Counting calories also adds a lot of frustration to a diet plan, which might not be the message you want to send to your child about healthy eating. If you can make the switch to a healthier way of eating, the actual number of calories consumed shouldn't be that much of a problem. Instead of counting calories, consider keeping a food log to evaluate the overall balance of your child's food intake. Following the food guide pyramid will ensure that he or she is getting the recommended number of servings from all the food groups;
Don't Forget Exercise
Exercise is a vital part of a kids' weight loss plan. It does not have to be structured to be effective. Institute a family walk or outside time after dinner when the weather is nice, or make family activities on the weekends that include physical activity. This is helpful for all members of the family, not just those who need to lose weight.
It is easier for most people to lose weight when combining calorie restriction and exercise. Exercise also helps you feel good about yourself and see the changes in your body even faster than you would with dieting alone. It can also be a lot of fun.