Help your kids lose weight without fat-shaming them
While many of us are thinking about our own New Year's resolutions to lose weight, I'm thinking about how to keep my kids from becoming obese adults without fat-shaming them in the process. Here is a guide to doing just that for your kids, too.
This is about the hardest thing I've ever done — for real. Taking away cake and cookies and goodie bags full of treats from my kids is like a bad man taking candy from a baby. There's a lot of guilt associated with taking the "good" bad stuff from your kids, but in the end, I know that I am on a mission to keep my kids from becoming obese adults.
And even more, I don't want a repeat of 2009 — the year when my 25-year-old stepson died from diabetes complications.
While many of us are thinking about our own New Year's resolutions to lose weight, I'm thinking about my kids, who are classified as slightly overweight according to their fitness profile at school. The profile is a quarterly report the school does in an effort to promote healthy eating and track the progress of students to ensure they are within normal health guidelines for their age. There has been some controversy over the "fat letter" given out by schools, and many parents are outraged about it. Bug instead of being angry, I'm using it as a catalyst to make some necessary changes in my children's lives.
Sometimes, it's hard for parents to control their kids' diet without feeling like they're making their kids feel as if they were fat. But according to the American Obesity Association, about 15 percent of adolescents (aged 12-19 years) and children (aged 6-11 years) are currently obese. These numbers are expected to continue to increase.
And we all know the negativity that comes along with the "f" word. There's bullying from other kids, unrealistic media images and the overall sense that there's a very fine line between your kids loving themselves and hating the way you're making them feel. So now begins the mission to help my kids become healthier without making them feel like they are fat or shaming them into submission. Because it's not about them becoming ultra-skinny — this is a mission to help them live healthier lifestyles so that diabetes, heart disease and other ailments don't become a part of their health profile.
Eating healthy on a budget
No sweet stuff, no refined sugar and no deadly high-fructose corn syrup — these harmful foods are the first to get cut from our grocery list! I've started closely monitoring exactly what my kids eat. That means surveying the school breakfast and lunch to really see if it's nutritious. And no, a honey bun disguised as a breakfast roll doesn't exactly qualify as a healthy breakfast, no matter how much the lunchroom manager tries to convince me otherwise.
Eating healthy doesn't have to cost more. Use these tips and materials from the USDA to help you make choices that are not only healthy but also economical.
- The 3 P's: Plan, Purchase and Prepare food on a budget. These reminders help you stay within your food budget.
- Smart shopping for veggies and fruits: Get the fruits and vegetables you need without breaking the bank.
- Sample 7-day menu: This sample weekly menu meets all nutritional needs at a cost below current average food costs.
Obesity in kids is an epidemic, and it's one that I refuse to allow my kids to be part of. Moms, don't let other people run a guilt trip on you — and don't run one on yourself! It's OK to help your kids live a lot healthier. Try these tips to help you along this fitness journey:
- Don't say, "diet"! Saying the word "diet" can foster eating disorders in your children and fuel perpetual negative thoughts about how they look. Explain how eating healthy helps them on the inside and out! Give them a lesson about their body and what it needs to remain healthy and functional. A little education goes a long way. Check out these books to help your kids build a healthy food culture:
- Herb the Vegetarian Dragon by Jules Bass and Debbie Harter
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
- To Market, to Market by Nikki McClure
- Mama Panya's Pancakes by Mary and Rich Chamberlin
- Eat breakfast at home. My kids used to eat breakfast at school. But I noticed that on many of those mornings, a honey bun was classified as a healthy breakfast option. That's a problem. Have your kids eat nutritious meals at home. It doesn't take much time to fix a hot bowl of oatmeal with a touch of honey to sweeten it up and a handful of almonds as added protein. I would stay away from cereal because most of them have GMOs and are filled with sugar. Check here for healthy breakfast options.
- Be fit as a family. I've got some fitness goals for myself, so why not work out with my kids and try to be healthy along with them? And according to a study in the journal Archives of Family Medicine, children who report frequent family dinners have healthier diets than their peers who don't! So eat together as a family and fill your fridge with fruits and veggies for your kids to munch on and to hold them over until dinner.
- Practice portion control. My kids love Old Country Buffet, but eating there is a no-no because it's easy to saturate your plate with an overload of empty calories. Stay away from buffets and teach your kids about portion control, like how they should eat a piece of meat the size of their palm and how fruits and veggies should fill half of their plate.
By adjusting how you and your kids think about healthy living, you'll soon be on your way to being fit and fabulous!