Kids & Weight Issues

Children & Weight Problems

These tips are based on the idea that your family is already eating healthy and still having problems.  For tips on eating healthy, see "What is Clean Eating" to see what we've found works for us.  You & your family may have different needs.  Just keep looking and learning until you find that key!

I've been asked by several parent's lately genuinely concerned about a child's weight.  After being asked this again, I thought I would make a page about my suggestions. 

*Disclaimer* I am NOT a licensed nutritionist or physician.  These are more tips on developing good eating habits, questions to ask yourself, etc.  It is NOT in any way intended to be medical advice.  Please check with a physician before making any radical changes in your diet/activity level or your children's.  Thanks!

#1 Tip:  Don't keep junk food in the house.  Simple, but it does help.

One of the things that drives me crazy (and I've been guilty of it myself, for years!) is when parents obsess about their weight, are always on a 'diet' but don't feed their family the same way.  If what you're doing to 'diet' isn't healthy enough for your family, you probably shouldn't be doing it (Yes, I'm sure there are some exceptions here).  Don't get me wrong, I really did this too many times to count.  All you're doing is giving your kids mixed messages.  Either you're telling them that being skinny is all important... and unhealthy... or you're sending the message that they don't need to be healthy themselves.

If what you are doing IS healthy and worth doing, then your family deserves the same health benefits that you are getting.  Even if you just transition slowly, bring your family around to have the same healthy diet.  Then your kids don't have to struggle with weight, health, etc and then grow up to have to try all those fad diets too!  They'll already have healthy habits and make good choices naturally because they'll know what those choices ARE.

By the way, I'm sorry if I'm probably telling you what you already know, just typing in a stream of consciousness.  This is my passion in life, you know!

Put the fork down: I would encourage you to try and help him to develop good eating habits using new games or projects at the table.  Maybe you could find a way for him to get into the habit of taking a drink of (not cold) water after every bite, just so then he would put his fork down and it would give his body more of a chance to register that he was 'full'.  I would probably make it about ME... since I usually need the reminder, too.  Then everyone becomes more conscious of what they're doing at the table instead of just mindlessly shoveling.

Use smaller plates and therefor it will seem like he's eating more.  

Two Courses:  Starting family meals with a salad or vegetable first and THEN serve the entree might help as well.  Make sure you have topics to discuss... this is an awesome way for not only YOU to connect with your child, but for your family to connect with each other.  Good family friendly topics of discussion??  Conversation Starters

Focus on really, truly appreciating food as you eat it.  Instead of scarfing down food.  Comment on different flavors, seasonings, textures, whatever you notice about your food (once you're done chewing, of course:).  This will help you all develop a new appreciation for your food.

Small changes in habit will make a HUGE difference, if he can just learn to slow down.  It takes a good twenty minutes for our food to get to the point that it can register to our minds that we're full.

GENES:  Good genes rock.  Having a naturally healthy metabolism is awesome.  But we don't all have that. Some people have sluggish metabolisms.  Have things like thyroid and adrenal levels checked.  Check out enzymes (best from raw foods) and learn about how they aid in digestion.  Education is awesome here, and you probably didn't learn about it in health class... and your kids probably aren't learning it either.

I know in our house good genes RULE.  Both my hubby and I have GREAT (naturally, anyway, until I screwed mine up!) metabolisms, and I think all of the kids do too, except one of our daughters.  I've always known this, and have been up front with her about it.  I know appearance is important to her, and although I don't want her obsessing about weight, I also don't want her to expect to be able to pig out on junk food often like her naturally thin older sister does and still be able to stay thin.  She is conscious of her eating choices and seems to have a good self image.  Since she actually enjoys learning about nutrition and fitness now... so its always an open topic of discussion here.

EMOTIONAL EATING:  Sometimes weight problems are about emotions.  As most of us know, sometimes stress, depression, life itself can cause us to want to just pig out, stuff our faces and binge on everything in sight. You will need to address the emotional issues involved here, of course and that is far out of my ability to address here.  You CAN however, try to help your child find other ways to cope with stress.  Find a sport, an activity or a hobby that they can pour their emotion into instead.

*When my kids were preteens, I gave them Michaels PreTeen Vitamins (for Girls or for Boys) and they helped tremendously with the moods and irritability that comes with 'those years'.  It made a huge difference.

EDUCATION:  If you homeschool, you can always bring nutrition, metabolisms and especially digestive enzymes into the conversation.  I believe that giving kids the knowledge that they can use on their own is a wonderful tool.  If you do NOT homeschool, there is no reason you can't research on your own different areas of nutrition, subscribe to Clean Eating or Health magazines and discuss interesting things at the dinner table.  Start encouraging an interest in nutrition for health's sake rather than focusing on weight.

MUSCLE: One last thing, muscle is an incredibly metabolism booster.  Once children reach age 12-13, they are old enough to start more in the way of strength training.  Building muscle will help!  Things like yoga & pilates are great for developing core strength and whatnot as well.  (Women, keep this in the front of your mind! Building muscle ups your metabolism!)

FOOD ALLERGIES!!!  WHEAT: Oh, one MORE last thing, if the weight is in the tummy area, have you tried taking him off of wheat?  I lot of people who have problems with weight, especially in the tummy area are sensitive or intolerant to wheat gluten and it tends to sit right there!

On the wheat thing, if nothing seems to be helping, then when fresh produce time hits, I would just discreetly leave wheat out for a while.  Rice pastas are actually good enough that even my hubby didn't complain:)  and just focus more on fresh produce, rice, potatoes and whatnot.  *Watch for hidden gluten, its everywhere!  Just give it about 3-4 weeks of NO wheat if you can and just see if it has an effect on him.  If that is an issue for him, it might suddenly make a big difference. It may take three weeks, but then suddenly you'll see a difference.

There are other common food allergies, but this is the one I hear the most about as far as weight problems go.