Every day we see articles and reports on the growing impact of obesity on our nation’s children, it’s scary stuff. Overweight kids often lead to obese adults, at risk of a shortened life due to weight related diseases and illnesses.
Who wants that for their kids?
On the other hand we have reports on the damage that is caused to our kids by being fed a constant diet of TV and media telling them that in order to be successful they have to be skinny and beautiful. We don’t want that for our kids either.
As parents, we can find ourselves stuck in the middle, wanting the best possible health outcomes for our kids but wanting them to be happy and secure too, no matter what their size or shape is.
For most kids a balance of good food and regular activity means that weight is not something we have to think about, but what if you are the parent of an overweight kid? How do you address the issue without making a big deal of it?
And for those of us who have battled our weight (and our attitude towards our bodies); how do we encourage our kids to be a healthy size without the guilt and negativity we have felt?
First, the good news. We don’t have to put the kids on a diet; kids grow outwards and upwards at an uneven rate so we can focus on habits not the scales and let an overweight child ‘grow’ into their size. In everyday terms this means getting the whole house eating a moderate, well balanced diet and getting some active movement or activity regularly.
There are a few other things you can do to encourage healthy eating and activity without feeling like you are being negative.
- Ban the F word! I mean FAT. Treat it like a swear word and remove it from your vocab. It’s a word that has lot of emotional weight to it and is so subjective it’s meaningless anyway- get rid of it.
- Reduce the battle between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ food by keeping the high fat, high sugar food out of the house (and keep the emergency chocolate supplies in the top cupboard).
- Treat yourself nicely in front of your kids. You may secretly wish to shed a few kilos- don’t we all but try and keep the negative language around your weight out of earshot.
- Focus on the benefits of healthy food for energy and making us smart and have energy rather than focusing on calories. Food is for energy and fuel, not guilt and anxiety.
- Teach your kids about the fun of being active, as this is an important part of maintaining a healthy weight. Being active is not something we just do at the gym or when playing sports, it’s easier if it’s woven into our everyday lives.
- When we are time poor it’s easier to go for processed and packaged food, instead of feeling guilty about it, go for healthier options in pre-prepared foods- there are plenty choices out there.
- Educate your kids; our schools do a great job of teaching kids about exercise and food so we have some help.
Any questions or thoughts feel free to add your comments below.