Kids and Weight Loss

14 Comments

I have been getting more questions in my inbox lately from parents looking for advice in helping their kids lose weight.  For this reason, I’m adding a category to the blog for articles that relate to kids and weight loss. For today, I wanted to share this question from a desperate blog reader:

Question:

Amy I am 310lbs and I am 30 years old.  I have two children a 12 year old boy and a four year old daughter (which never ate any meat besides fish). She has already gained 20lbs in the past month.  I feel like my daughter is going to follow in my foot steps…that is what I have been thinking, but I feel like I need help. I cant afford to go to a gym and I currently have 0 income. I was hoping that maybe you could help me develop a healthy eating plan for my kids preferably a diet plan that doesn’t include any meat besides fish, but mostly based off of nuts, grains and vegetables. I don’t want my daughter to be unhealthy like me.

Answer:

Thank you for writing me!  Recently, my friend Natalie, who is a registered dietitian and a new author for this blog and helps me to write our meal plans, went to an obesity conference!  Here are a few things she learned:

  • Research shows that people who simply track their food intake lose weight! This is one of the easiest things you can do!  The research suggests that with every person that starts tracking, they start to lose weight!
  • Physical activity is key!  Take a walk every day with your kids.  It’s free, you can connect with them, and you’ll all get healthier.
  • Small changes are the most significant for lasting behavior change.  The one change I would recommend is to cut back or cut out sugar altogether.
  • Although you don’t want to include meats, a diet higher in protein has been shown to help with satiety (you won’t be hungry a few minutes after eating protein, as you are with carbs).
kids running

As far as an eating plan goes, my opinion is the simpler the better.  So, for a meal plan, Higher in protein and low in meats and sugars would look something like this:

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with sliced apples and cinnamon
  • Snack: Fruit plus 10 almonds
  • Lunch: Large salad with veggies on top like broccoli, bell peppers, zucchini, carrots).  Chicken on top (optional)
  • Snack: Plain yogurt with fruit in it. (Greek Style yogurt is high in protein)
  • Dinner:  Scrambled eggs with sautéed veggies like mushrooms and onions.
  • Before bed: Smoothie shake with fruit, spinach, and high protein Greek style yogurt.

The problem may be that this meal plan may not feel like enough food! But you can have more than one serving.  At the same time, we don’t need much food for survival!!  It’s important to change your mind set about how much food your body requires for optimal energy.. because usually, it isn’t very much!!

Anyway, It is very difficult for me to offer this type of advice without working closely with you.   I would look into finding a dietitian at your local health department and find out what free services are offered through them or WIC.  If you could meet with someone on an ongoing basis, It would be great to have some local support, and you will have greater success.

Kids and Weight Loss

More Advice:

MyPlate for Moms

I’m happy that parents want their kids to be healthy, but it’s important to note that when it comes to children and weight, health experts, including me, often recommend that children maintain their weight while their height increases. Cutting way down on soda, chips, and cookies and including more physical activity may naturally produce weight loss, but parents should never put their child on a diet without first consulting with their pediatrician who should refer them to a registered dietitian (RD) who is an expert in pediatric nutrition.

My latest book, MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better, covers weight control for kids and adults in detail. Good health is a family affair! I’ve counseled lots of families with overweight children, and I’ve found, many times, that parents are often perplexed by what foods their kids prefer. Well, if high-calorie, low-nutrient, sugar and fatty foods are in the house, then kids (and adults!) will probably go for them before they choose fruits, vegetables, and other lower-fat fare. That’s why I like to focus on what the entire family does, rather than just what that one child does for diet and exercise.

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14 Comments

Good advice. Just want to point out that it’s not just what the family eats but how. Sometimes the easiest first step is to just eat regular meals and snacks at the table instead of while bored or watching TV. Stop using food as a reward or anything else besides hunger/enjoyment. Once the meal habit is there, small changes to what is eaten can be made.

Good article! As parents, we control our child’s food environment – restricting access to junk food and controlling portion size can have a real impact on eating behavior. I agree with Maryann, that “how” we eat is crucial. Eating food whilst watching TV is particularly problematic – children don’t attend to their food and end up overeating. Regarding physical activity for overweight children, you might be interested in this article which provides tips for parents on helping overweight children be more active: http://parentsforhealth.org/getting-my-overweight-child-active
Keep up the good work!
David

Wonderful advice! I think that it is awesome that a mother reaches out for help like this. The main thing to always remember is it starts with the parents. You can’t expect your kids to be healthy and active if you are doing the complete opposite! If the parents set a good example and explains to the children the benefits and the risks involved around how they eat, it is life changing!

I read your blog once a week , but never have commented. I just was inspired to say my thoughts and ideas. I too have a daughter who is borderline overweight. she is turning 8 soon and weighs 85 lbs and is 4’5. She recently was playing WII fit and did a body test and was overweight and her little MII got chubby she cried for an hour after that. I recently have lost 27 pounds so food and health have been a big dicussion in our home. So we made a plan I asked her what we should do and she said some great ideas and asked for help. First, she is drinking a lot more water and tells me often how much or we celebrate bathroom breaks because that means she is consuming more water. Often children arent hungry they are thirsty or tired. Second, like Maryann stated we are focusing on the HOW we are eating and that is a lot more slower we were eating food like it was a race so we are slowing down by putting a timer on and not getting from the table until it goes off we talk more and visit more and the last 3 weeks have been awesome it is almost a habit now. I understand your frustration and concern and hope that these little tidbits might help as well.Thank you for the courage to post the question and good luck to a new healthier happier you and family 😀

Great website full of good information kids and weight lossat campbellnbrownind. kids and weight loss is something mothers and fathers need to know about and take control of I think. I also have information’s on this as well on my website again good reading and tips, I will be looking for more.

Kids should maintain their weight so for this reason it is good to eat well and healthy food. Regular exercise is also important for kids. Its a good thing to eat low calories for children to maintain or reduce weight. For more tips you can contact with me.

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