Eight ways to help your overweight child

By Drum Digital
08 July 2016

Changing habits to help your child lose weight can be as simple, and can be done one at a time

By Vida Li Sik

so it doesn’t overwhelm the adults or their children, says Dr Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating (Why We Eat More than We Think, 2006).

Here are eight expert tips to help your child slim down:

  1. Serve healthy food at home. This will take commitment and planning. Sit down at the beginning of the week and plan what meals you’re going to make. Get the ingredients ready beforehand instead of serving what is quick and easy.
  2. Pack healthy lunch boxes. Replace white bread with brown or seed bread. If your child doesn’t like eating big pieces of fruit, you can cut them up into bite-sizes or substitute them with dried fruit and nuts. Schools don’t like sugary foods like sweets or biscuits in lunch boxes as they make children more hyperactive. Encourage your child not to spend their money on sweets, pies, chocolates and sugary cold drinks.
  3. Monitor what they eat. Ban the frequent consumption of sugary snacks and crisps in the home. Buy them in small quantities and eat them only on special occasions or at least limit them to once a week.
  4. Get them moving. Restrict the time they watch TV or play electronic games to the weekend and for a limited time period. Encourage them to rather kick a ball in the yard. Play a mini game of soccer or cricket with them or go for a walk in the neighbourhood.  Encourage them to participate in sports at their school.
  5. Change where you eat and the size of your plates. Eat at the table instead of in front of the TV so you are more aware of what you eat. It is also bonding as a family to eat together and talk. Exchange the big plate your child uses to a smaller one.
  6. Adjust the eye level of food in your fridge and cupboard. Put the more tempting and fattening foods on a higher shelf and out of your child’s eyesight and reach. Put healthier foods like fruit, cheese and yoghurt in front. Rearrange your cupboards and put the chips, sweets and sugary drinks out of your child’s reach and healthier snacks, like raisins and popcorn in front where they are the first thing your child will see. Reaching for the fatty snacks will take more effort and after the second or third time of having to reach past the healthier options, your child will reach for what is easiest.
  7. Rename veggies to make them more interesting. Be creative and instead of offering your child plain, old broccoli, call it “buttery broccoli” or “Roadhouse Cabbage.” Some children become more motivated to eat veggies if you rename it. Or you can tell them interesting facts on how the vegetable is grown.
  8. Create a ripple effect of small change. Put fruits in bowls on the table where you eat within reach for your children. Increase the amount of healthy food in your house while decreasing the fatty stuff. For example, replace ice cream with yoghurt. Don’t make too many changes at once and don’t put them on deprivation diets. One small change adds up over time.

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