First step is to distinguish between a real overweight problem and plumpness, and your pediatrician can help you to do this, if your child is approaching being overweight or already has too many pounds. With children, it’s important to focus on good health, not appearance.
Avoid suggesting that your child will “look better” if he loses weight. A child quickly assumes this means that there is something “wrong” with the way he looks now, and your condemnation can be just as distressing as being teased by peers.
The subject of being â€œoverweightâ€ should be presented not just as a question of cosmetics but in terms of what a child’s body is able to do. You can explain to your son that he won’t be able to run as fast, or that he’ll have less energy if he eats food that adds fat to the body.
Focus on forming better eating habits, not “going on a diet.” Make it a family project for everyone to begin eating healthier foods, and keep a selection of appetizing, low-fat foods in the house. The overweight child still needs autonomy.
Give one or two cookies if he asks for them, but offer to cut up some fruit or slice some cheese if the child is still hungry and wants to eat more. And enlist the child’s help in keeping less fatty foods at home.
Low Fat Foods
Sit down together and come up with some low-fat foods that you can buy at the store. (Many food companies today are promoting fat-free versions of popular cookies and snacks.) You can trim unneeded calories, cholesterol, or fat from a child’s diet by switching to low-fat milk and margarine, and offering frozen yogurt instead of ice cream.
Pretzels, for example, contain less fat than potato chips. Fat is something that all children have to be cautioned about. In fact, fat storage in the body has been found to associate with certain kinds of disease, so that all of us stand to gain by keeping intake to a minimum.
Small portions are a good idea, too, since people who are overweight may feel more obliged to clean their plate. Finally, avoid using food as a reward in general. You can celebrate good news by going ice-skating together or taking a walk, for instance. Besides, a child who grows up active won’t put on extra weight. Children need to be taught that exercise is significant for good health.