Childhood Obesity – tips for losing weight
1. Announce to your kids that you’re making the switch to eat more healthfully. Make this a family effort, and promote it as a positive change (not a “diet” or way to lose weight). This helps boost self-esteem. Ultimately you want to teach kids to make healthy food choices as part of their lifestyle.
2. Eliminate junk foods from the house. Dump those chips, animal crackers and cookies for healthful snacks like fruits and veggies. Carrot sticks and apple slices make easy munchies. If your child needs convincing, entice them with a dip like fat-free dressing or low-fat peanut butter. Then, slowly wean them off the dip.
3. Have your kids eat three regular meals and two healthy snacks a day. This speeds up metabolism and helps kids always feel satisfied so they’re less likely to overeat.
4. Keep a bowl of ready-to-eat fruits out on the counter for quick snacks. Stock up on bananas, apples, oranges, pears and grapes, and tell your children they can freely choose from these snacks. Giving them a choice lets them have control over what they’re eating.
5. Don’t let kids munch in front of the tube. Serve meals and snacks at the table to help monitor what and how much your kids are eating. Mindless munching in front of the TV can add inches to their waistlines. Experts recommend that kids spend no more than one or two hours daily in front of a TV or computer screen.
6. Build a meal around a vegetable entrée. Consider whipping up a stir-fry, salad, vegetable quesadillas or vegetable pizza. Use items like grape tomatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers and potatoes to put together vegetable kebabs for the grill.
7. Use fresh fruits and vegetables whenever possible. You’ll get the maximum nutrients with the fresh stuff. Frozen fruits and veggies are the next best thing; they add fewer calories and salt than canned product. If you do buy canned produce, look for “no salt added” on the label.
8. Boost breakfast options. Add banana or strawberry slices to your child’s cereal or use whole berries like antioxidant-rich blueberries or raspberries. Most kids like these fruits so it’s an easy way to get an extra serving of produce into their first meal of the day.
9. Downsize the desserts. If your family regularly serves desserts after a meal, try smaller portions and fix healthful options. A baked apple with cinnamon is all natural and provides added nutrition without a lot of extra sugar.
10. Bake with applesauce. In many cake and muffin recipes, you can substitute applesauce for oil to cut down on fat. Applesauce also adds moisture and flavor to the goodies.
11. Park as far as possible from the supermarket or department store. These small steps add up, especially for kids who take two to three times as many steps as you do to reach the same destination. Make it a game – have your child count how many steps it takes to reach each store. Then see if you can park even farther the next trip. For older kids, consider getting the child a pedometer to track steps.
12. Encourage lots of exercise. You don’t have to enroll your child in organized sports to get them moving (although it is a great way to burn those calories!). Experts recommend at least 60 minutes of exercise a day for kids. Remember, this can be broken down into small increments like three 20-minute intervals. Take a bike ride or walk around the neighborhood, play a game of catch or toss around a Frisbee. If you have a dog, make it part of your child’s routine to walk the dog once a day.