Changing diets for overweight kids, take it slow and prepare yourself.
Any diets for overweight kids should work on the same healthy eating principles that we would use for healthy, nutritious diets for ourselves. Nutrition for children is different than it is for adults though, and this needs to be taken into account.
Children's bodies are still growing, bones, muscles, brain, internal organs, are all still developing and for this to happen well, they need extra amounts of certain nutrients and food groups (such as calcium and proteins), and they have some nutritional needs that adults don't have, but incorporating these into diets for overweight kids is not difficult.
But, if you've got kids in the house, and they're eating what you're eating, and you know that you are consuming way too much fat, then they are too.
If they're eating high energy laden foods, and lots of them, and if they're overweight, then they won't be harmed by reducing the fat and/or sugar in their diet.
Diets for overweight kids - the first steps
The first step in developing diets for overweight kids is for the child to see a doctor. In fact, adult or child, you should consult your doctor before you make any changes.
Tell the doctor that you have some concerns about your childs weight, and ask if there's anything they can suggest that you need to keep in mind.
Ask them what the extra requirements are for children of your child's age - there are higher calcium needs for children until they are adults, ask what these are. Quick note here - the amount of calcium in a food is not lessened by removing the fat. Therefore eating low fat dairy foods will not lower the amount of calcium you consume.
So you can quite happily replace full fat cream, milk, yoghurt and cheese with low fat varieties without worrying that you're limiting your child's calcium intake. There's also calcium in a variety of other foods, fish, and so on.
Ask the doctor if they recommend, to meet the requirements of nutrition for children, a vitamin supplement specifically designed for children.
Check with your doctor first.
The next step in diets for overweight kids is an easy one...wean them off high sugar drinks and high fat snacks.
Diets for overweight kids - take out the sugary drinks
I'm pretty sure that no doctor will tell you to keep the kids on sugar laden soft drinks and high fat foods. I know it would be easier if they did....but it isn't going to happen!
Be prepared that when you start making changes to your kids' diets that they are going to jack up and cause problems. Keep at it! Really, you know changing their diet is good for them, now and into the future, so don't be pushed around by the tantrums...you're doing what's in their best interests...that's your job...don't let them make you feel bad about helping them...just do it.
There is no evidence to suggest that children need any more sugar in their diet than what they already get from foods. If your on a full 'natural' unprocessed diet, they'll probably be having sugar added to some of their foods, but they definitely do not need the added sugar that comes from soft drinks, cordials and flavoured milks.
Cut them out! They don't need tham and neither do you. If you're making cordial up, start mixing it weaker, do it gradually if you have too. Another way is to restrict the amount they have in any given day, start cutting what they have now in half. If they have 2 glasses a day, only let them have 1.
Stop buying it! These drinks were once kept for special occasions, put them back there. They aren't necessary or healthy on a daily basis, if you don't have them in the house they can't drink them.
I can already here the reasons why this is too hard. The fact that they won't drink anything else. Well, if they're thirsty, they'll drink! They've always had it, I can't change it now. Of course, you can. Explain to them that too much isn't good for them, or you. It's okay as something special, but explain to them the damage it causes to their teeth, their bodies and the expense.
Flavoured drinks are not cheap. Water is cheap, how much money would you save if you cut your soft drink consumption in half every week? Maybe even put that money in a jar, and go out for a day once a month on the saved money.
If you're concerned about the diets of overweight kids, yours or someone else's, this is one of the places to start. Start taking the excess sugary foods out of their diet, it's good for their health, good for your health and good for your wallet!
Diets for overweight kids - take out the processed junk foods
Chips, snack bars, and lollies can all go. Taking these out of children's diets is one of the first steps. These like the drinks are usually high energy foods. For a relatively small size packet or bar, there are high amounts of sugar and fat. You won't adversely affect their health by removing these from their diet.
Replace them with fruits, vegetables, unsalted, unbuttered air popped popcorn. To be honest air popped popcorn and a little (emphasis on the little) salt and butter is better for them than a prepacked packet of chips, or lollies.
Again, these are things that were once kept for special occasions. Even if you drop the intake to half of what they're currently having you'll be helping them. Explain it too them, show them on the packaging how much energy, fat and sugar there are in these foods, with very little nutrition for children in them at all.
They may protest, but you're doing it for the right reasons, improving their health, helping them understand why we need food, and what we need out of it. You're also helping them understand what we don't need in the food we eat.
Diets for overweight kids - you can deal with the tantrums and you can help them
It is difficult as a parent to cope the tantrums that our children throw when they don't get what they want. But we can deal with it. If there are major changes to be made to their diets, take it slow, just like the rest of information says on this site, take one thing and work on it until it has stopped being an issue.
You may buy only one bottle of soft drink each week to start with. Once it's gone, you don't buy anymore. Yes, they'll argue, yes they'll plead, stay strong.
Explain to them why. When they give you a hard time, remind them that as a parent it's your job to look after their health, and while they mightn't like it, it's what you're going to do.
Show them the labels of things that you're reducing in their daily intake. Explain to them about the high numbers of fat, sugar and energy. Eventually they'll realise that you're serious about this, and they'll stop nagging you.
Once they'll stopped nagging you, give yourself a couple of days of peace, and then make the next change. This time they'll nag you less, because they now know what you're doing and that you won't cave-in.
You'll probably always get a little bit of a hard time off them, but once they realise that you're serious, the little bit of niggling you get will be well worth it.
Remind yourself that if you don't help them start thinking about what they're doing now, they're going to suffer all the consequences of being overweight - the low self esteem, the unhappiness, the health risks and the difficulty in getting it off later.
Diets for overweight kids - Start Now!
It doesn't matter where you start. Whether it be introducing more fruit and vegetables into their meals and snacks, reducing their sugar and fatty snacks, or switching to low fat dairy foods. The important thing is that you start.
Take one thing at a time, prepare yourself for some grumbles, maybe even some downright tantrums, but start. If you've ever had an issue with your weight you'll know what a painful experience it is. Even if you hadn't, I can tell you, personally, it isn't any fun!
You can turn your child's diet around. Diets for overweight kids are the same as diets for adults, the ultimate aim is to only put in what you need on any given day, and to eat foods that meet all the nutritional needs for your body. Start explaining it and working with your child on it now, and you'll make a difference, you can turn it around. Be persistent, explain it to them.
Take it one step at a time and they will start to learn the difference between eating to live (and still enjoying food) and living to eat, which comes with a lot of side-effects that are neither fun nor healthy.
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