Are you aware that your child is Obese or even over-weight, you must not overlook or ignore this issue. Ignorance or not dealing with Obesity in children promptly, puts your child at risk of developing diseases like Diabetes, Heart Diseases, Liver diseases, High Blood Pressure, Joint problems, Hormonal Imbalance, Sleep disorders, Asthma etc. not only in adulthood but also during childhood.
Childhood Obesity also opens doors for a handful of psychological disturbances like self-image issues, depression, anxiety and social isolation.
what can you do as a parent if your child is Obese?
Firstly, understand that it is not something that you can deal with by weight loss or home remedies or some kind of diet. The goal is to slow down the weight gain (and not weight loss) so that your child grows into a normal weight eventually.
Secondly it is important to identify the cause behind this weight gain and which is why you are required to be in touch with a qualified medical professional for both reasons.
Now, if your child is diagnosed with Obesity but without any underlying disease- more than half of the issue is already solved. Even if there is some condition responsible for continuous weight-gain, it can very well be controlled with the right treatment.
Changing your lifestyle is the next major step you need to take, for your child who is Obese. Here is how you can do it:
Lead by example:
If you want your child to eat healthy or indulge in some form of activity, make sure you are doing it too. For e.g. while you cook spinach (or healthy food) make them help you in the kitchen in an age appropriate way and tell them how it is good for the body. Eat the same food with them so that they know this is not just for them but a good habit which everyone must follow.
Do not go out and about making major changes in your child’s routine and eating habits suddenly. Make sure to bring in healthy lifestyle through small changes. It will give your child time to adjust to the new routine without feeling pushed or burdened with the new change.
Reduce your child’s screen time:
This goes for children of all age groups. Reducing screen time will not only give your child more time during the day for physical activity but will also prevent them from using cell phones or watching TV while eating food. This will promote mindful eating i.e. your child will learn to know and appreciate what is in the plate and will also be effective in portion control.
Encourage Physical Activity:
Physical activity is essential as it then balances the amount of calories consumed and spent in your child’s body. A child leading a sedentary lifestyle with no or minimal physical activity has an imbalance between calories consumed and spent. Physical activity is also essential as it releases certain happy hormones in the body, which keep your child away from depression and other psychological troubles associated with Obesity and also reduce stress-which means there will be no binge eating episodes under stress (which promotes further weight gain).
Make your child indulge in active play for at least 40 minutes daily, if there is no open play area around your residence enroll your kid in some kind of sport like swimming, tennis, badminton etc.
Follow a Healthy Diet:
Now, this is a huge topic by itself; so I will not be able to cover all the aspects of food in relation to Obesity in children. But here are some key points regarding eating healthy:
-Never let your child skip breakfast. It is the first meal of the day and is responsible for providing all the energy a child needs to kick-start the day. If your child goes to school without breakfast, he or she tends to become low on energy and then their body makes them crave for carbs and sugars like chips, chocolates, beverages etc. (instant energy giving foods) which add on to the weight gain.
-You must have already heard a lot about limiting junk food, which is of course essential but not many people know about limiting hidden refined or artificial sugar as well as salt in their child’s diet. Sugar is hidden in foods like breads, processed foods like jams, jellies, candies, packaged juices and salt is overloaded in foods like ready-to-eat meals, ketchups, instant soups, pickles etc.
Remember it does not mean to cut down all salt and sugar from your child’s diet. Your child can have natural sugars present in fruits, fresh fruit juices and salt in home cooked foods after you limit the above mentioned food products.
you should serve your child all sorts and a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables (one for each colour) daily. This will give your child essential nutrients, fiber and also keep his tummy full in order to stay away from unhealthy food choices.
After all is said and done we all know that it is not easy to make children eat healthy foods especially if you have a fussy eater at home! What I believe is that as mother’s you can try to be innovative with your recipes- i.e. make food attractive to your child and also cook it in a way that they do not really come to know what is being fed to them.
STAY HEALTHY STAY FIT