Being overweight puts your child at greater risk for diabetes, heart disease and asthma, along with the teasing that comes from his peers. If you make unhealthy choices for you and your family, your child is only naturally going to emulate what he sees and hears from you. It’s up to you to set the stage for a lifetime of healthy behavior.
Eating as a Family
It’s important that you don’t single your child out because she’s overweight. Don’t give her carrot sticks along with a sandwich if everyone else in the family is having chips. Remember that the focus is on eating healthy foods and that everyone can benefit from that, whether they are overweight or not. Make healthy eating a family affair.
A Well-Rounded Diet
Rather than strictly counting calories, it’s best to offer your child a diet that’s well-rounded. This should include lean sources of protein — chicken, tofu and beans, for example — along with fruits and vegetables, non-fat dairy products and whole grains. If your child rejects whole grain breads, pastas and rice because he isn’t used to the taste, try blending the whole grain with the processed grain. Limit his access to junk foods, offering healthy foods instead.
Making Kid Favorites Healthier
Reduce fat by baking instead of frying foods. You can get the same crispy taste by spraying a light layer of olive oil on the foods before placing them in the oven. When making your child’s favorite foods, like pizza and macaroni and cheese, use low-fat or non-fat ingredients to reduce overall calorie counts. You can also up the nutritional value of foods by adding vegetables to everything you cook.
Snacking is an essential part of your child’s diet, but that doesn’t mean you have to let her eat a bag of chips or a candy bar. Encourage your child to eat fruits and vegetables when she’s snacking. Dips can make this more fun. Even healthy snacks like whole grain crackers can be a bad thing if she eats too many. Divide these types of snacks into portion-controlled mini-bags that she can just grab when she’s hungry.
High-calorie beverages can add unwanted pounds. Don’t allow your child to drink sodas — at the very least, reserve it for a special treat. Even fruit juices can be high in calorie if that’s all that he’s drinking. His primary beverage should be water, but you can also serve non-fat milk occasionally.