Beginning a weight-loss regimen can be intimidating at any age, but when it comes to losing weight as a child or adolescent, there may be extra sensitivity attached to it. Many parents don’t want their young children to “diet” because of a negative connotation associated with kids and dieting. Yet 1 in 3 children or adolescents are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
So how can we combat the childhood obesity epidemic, while taking into account sensitivities around youth weight loss? It may be as simple as deciding to tackle weight loss as a family. By embarking on this journey with your entire family, you can all introduce a healthier lifestyle long term.
How do I know if my child is overweight or obese?
Talk to your pediatrician about having your child’s Body Mass Index (BMI) calculated. Your pediatrician can set realistic weight-loss goals to help your child reach a healthier BMI.
How do I change his or her habits?
No parent wants his or her child to feel like an outcast on a restrictive diet. A family approach to weight loss by embracing a nutritious diet and exercise will enforce healthy habits that benefit everyone regardless of their weight.
Where do we start?
It’s as easy as learning to replace unhealthy food choices with real, fresh food and practicing healthier habits. The SlimGenics Program introduces clients of all ages to a nutritionally designed food plan, one-on-one support and nutritional supplementation to target the root causes of weight gain. SlimGenics also offers youth-tailored programs for children and adolescents.
Now that you’ve got an idea of where to start, here are some additional tips for making weight loss a family affair.
Talk About It
Discuss the transition to a healthier lifestyle through diet and exercise as a family. Examine the benefits of a healthy diet, the activities you all will partake in as a family and how these habits are going to make you all feel in the future. The journey won’t necessarily be easy, but letting your spouse and children know you’re all in it together will create a support system for success.
Parents should be sensitive when it comes to talking about weight loss with their children. Avoid placing blame or opting for diet “quick fixes”, which may elicit negative emotions about losing weight. Instead, acknowledge healthy choices with praise and use positive reinforcement when discussing new healthy habits and practices your family is incorporating over time.
Begin with small changes like eliminating soda, for instance. Replace sugary drinks and soda with fruit infused water or calorie-free drink additions. Try adding a few squeezes of lemon and some natural sweetener for healthy, kid-approved lemonade without the sugar and calories. Or try our Pura-Boost, a delicious caffeine-free antioxidant drink, which comes in a refreshing berry flavor, a great stand-in for juices!
Swapping chicken nuggets or pizza for low-calorie options like grilled chicken breast or wheat pita with low-fat mozzarella won’t always be received with open arms on the first introduction. Don’t stress over the timeline—making healthy changes that stick takes time and effort, especially with picky eaters.
Don’t Obsess Over the Numbers
Instead of counting calories, stepping on the scale and becoming disappointed when the numbers don’t reflect the results you want, encourage your family members to embrace gradual lifestyle changes they can maintain. By teaching kids to count calories or omit entire food groups, you may be doing them more harm than good. Kids are constantly growing and need extra nutrients to fuel their body, so encourage consistent healthy changes, rather than extreme quick fixes.
Exercising as a family is a wonderful way to help every member learn to be more active. Limit time spent on electronics and in front of the TV and suggest activities like walking, biking, hiking or sports in the yard. You can even create a rewards system for activities accomplished as a family.
Don’t give up on a healthier life for yourself and your loved ones! Commit to these positive changes and experience the difference they can make. By undertaking weight loss as a family, you will pave the way for your children to practice healthy behaviors as adults. Combating childhood obesity begins at home; don’t let your child be another statistic, make healthy changes TODAY!