True health is not just a number on the scale. It is the ability for the body to move, convert energy and remain disease free. However, every year we see an increase in our children's weight. Many are now subject to type 2 diabetes, which used to be 'adult onset'. The American Diabetes Association reported in 2011 "about 1 in every 400 children and adolescents has diabetes."
Rather than focus on weight loss, I challenge you to focus on lifestyle changes with your kids. Lifestyle changes will remain with them and will likely have them encouraging their friends to really start looking at the way they view food and exercise.
Some tips we use in our house and with coaching families include:
1 Get in the mindset that food is nourishment. The body is supposed to feel energized from our foods, not bloated, lethargic or tired.
2 Use smaller dinner plates. When your stomach is empty, it's the size of your closed fist. Two closed fists equal a full stomach. Put your open palms side by side. That should be the size of your plate. Snacks? One palm size.
3 Do NOT encourage your children to weigh themselves. Get rid of the scale altogether. Base changes on energy levels and even how clothing fits.
4 Learn about healthy eating together. Each week pick a new topic: glycemic index, wheat, Mediterranean meals. There are enough topics to keep you busy for the entire year. Not used to cooking? Turn it into a fun family activity. Look up recipes on Pinterest to try out new things.
5 Eat slowly, putting down your fork between bites. Make it a challenge to chew food at least 20 times before swallowing. Your digestive system works much better when food is broken down so the rest of the organs can do their jobs with minimal extra effort.
6 Set short-term goals. Add in some fitness/movement goals! How many sit-ups can you do now? How many in 30 days? How many in 60 days? Trying to phase out sodas? How many glasses of water did you drink today? How many can you do tomorrow?
7 Add in rewards. Met a goal? Then do something fun to celebrate! I try not to recommend using food as the reward. How about a movie out? New clothes? New shoes?
8 Add in de-stress time. Learn mindful breathing or meditation. It helps to slow the mind down and learn how to focus. Take a few minutes a day to stop, breathe deeply and then slowly release. It will help reduce stress.
You may be concerned about your child's weight. The doctors may have even said something, but remember that one child at 100 lbs can be different than another at the same weight. Migrating to healthier eating habits, introducing water as their main hydration source and learning to add in more movement to their days will help them in the long term and keep their self esteem up.