Overweight children have an increased risk of developing many health issues, including asthma, diabetes and heart disease. Children who are overweight are likely to become overweight adults, which further increases their chance of developing health problems. Health experts, including the Mayo Clinic, do not recommend strict or fad diets for overweight children; instead, they recommend a healthy diet of whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Involve Entire Family
It will be difficult for your overweight child to change her eating habits if she has to watch her siblings and parents indulge in desserts and sodas. Taking on healthy eating as a family endeavor will make your overweight child feel less singled out. A family discussion about healthy eating and an agreement to start today solidifies the team spirit. Clearing the house of junk food and empty-calorie sodas is an important step to introducing a family eating style change.
Set Specific Goals
Healthy food choices are necessary if your child is going to lose weight and keep it off. Ask your child to set a weekly goal for himself that will gradually change his eating habits. For example, he may decide that this week he will start eating a piece of fruit after school instead of the usual cookies and milk. Next week he will continue eating fruit while introducing the next goal, which may be trading in whole milk for 2 percent of skim milk at dinner.
Fast Food Changes
Visiting the fast food restaurants less often will help your child lose weight. If you do occasionally visit a fast food establishment, encourage your child to make healthy choices. Most fast food restaurants offer at least one or two healthy meals such as salads, fruit cups and yogurt.
Make It Fun
Introducing whole grain foods to your overweight child can be fun. Having a family bread-baking day, in which your child helps you prepare, bake and slice up different whole grain products, such as breads, muffins and bagels, shows him that healthy food can be fun food.
Let your child plan dinner once a week. Make a game out of challenging her to find whole grain and healthy alternatives for her favorite unhealthy foods.
Get Him Moving
Increasing your child’s metabolism will help him burn calories more quickly. Exercise can be fun. Signing him up for a ball team, having a weekly family bowling night, taking daily walks together and running with the family dog all burn calories without your child feeling forced to exercise.