Helping Overweight Children

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Ask for guidance on providing a healthy diet that will meet the child’s nutritional needs.

Focus on health rather than weight – Don’t make losing weight the main issue. Explain to the child that eating healthy foods helps the body strong and provides energy for fun activities. Involve the whole family in a healthy eating plan. Make a variety of healthy foods available Children should not be placed on restrictive diets.

Provide a wide variety of healthy foods from all of the food groups, especially fruits and vegetables. Giving children choices make them more willing to try new things. Encourage regular physical activity and limit television viewing Excessive television viewing is linked to weight problems in children.

Encourage the child to participate in physical activities he or she enjoys, whether it is a team sport, riding a bike, or hiking. Be a good role model.

Be active daily and plan activities the whole family can participate in. Offer conditional love and support Overweight children sometimes develop a poor self-image. Caregivers should make it clear that the child is loved and accepted at any weight.

MAKING FOOD CHOICES

As children become more independent, they begin to make more of their own food choices. They may make or buy some of their own snacks and meals. Peers or the media may influence these choices, which often take place away from home. Despite outside influences, family remains the primary influence on a child.

Modeling good eating behaviour is one of the best ways to teach a child good eating habits. Here are a few things that families can do:

Eat meals together. Show by example that healthful eating habits include both the right foods and the right amounts. In other words, don’t overeat. Serve varied, well balanced meals that are low in fat, sugar, and salt. Stock the kitchen with a variety of nutritious foods for snacks. Limit sweets and deep fried foods to special occasions.

Desert does not need to be served every day.

Offer children smaller portions than an adult would eat.

Never force them to clean their plate Instead, allow and encourage children to stop eating when they feel full. Make calcium-rich foods and beverages a part of a child’s diet to help ensure strong bones.

STARTING THE DAY RIGHT

Breakfast is an important meal for both children and adults. It provides the vital fuel that people need to begin the day. Researchers have found that children who eat breakfast have a greater capacity for learning and participation and a greater ability to concentrate, especially on tasks that require problem solving and creativity.

Skipping breakfast can result in headaches, fatigue, and restless behaviour, which interfere with classroom learning.

A healthy breakfast includes two servings from the grain group, one from the dairy group, and one from the fruit group.

National school breakfast programs help provide this nutrition and ensure that all children can begin the school day the right way.

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