Childhood obesity: those are terrifying words. Most people are used to seeing obese adults. But overweight kids are more worrisome: for parents, healthcare professionals, and the nation at large. Because more children are getting fatter–not just baby fat fatter–the weight they are gaining won’t come off in puberty. These overweight kids are tomorrow’s morbidly obese adults. And more obesity means more healthcare costs (weight related problems account for the largest piece of insurance and health care spending). But childhood obesity is treatable with diet. Good nutrition helps kids lose weight without drugs or surgery. Did that stop you in your tracks–anti-obesity drugs and bariatric surgery for children? It should shock but consider this, drugs and surgery are the logical outcome if those overweight children can’t or won’t lose weight and carry that fat into adulthood.
Teach children to count calories. But it’s boring and takes the fun out of eating, they’ll complain. Perhaps, but mindless eating is what puts the pounds on. Plus calorie counting is a fun, hands-on math lesson. Get kids a decent food journal with calorie counter. Track every calorie consumed. Set a goal weight and multiply that by 15. There’s your allotted calorie intake for the day. Adults should multiply by 11, but kids get to eat more because they are growing and if they are active (if they aren’t they should be). Here are free diet tools and calorie trackers to lose weight.
Weight loss is about portion control. Encourage children to eat six small meals and snacks daily. They should eat within an hour of rising. They shouldn’t eat big meals before bed but a nutritious snack like a banana is good. Keep meals to 400-500 calories and snacks to 100-200. If they play a sport, they may eat more and still lose weight.
Take supplements for weight loss. Kids shouldn’t take just any weight loss aid. But they can get antioxidant goodness, plus immune boosters from acai, vitamin C and Vitamin D. Don’t allow them to drink caffeine but green tea is okay. Make power smoothies with Emergen-C a natural vitamin supplement blend. Alive or Sundown Whole Food multivitamins get those missing nutrients, vegetables and fruits plus help lose weight.
Weight loss requires simplifying the diet. It’s okay for children to have treats and junk food now and then. It’s fine to go out to eat occasionally. But to lose weight, or just for good health, the bulk of a kid’s diet should be raw veggies, fruit, whole grains, good dairy and lean meat and protein sources. If you cut one thing, make it refined or “white” foods: sugar and flour. Limit starch, carbs and gluten. Cook lighter and make more homemade meals from scratch. Eliminate soda pop, diet or regular, altogether. Drink more water to lose weight. Sweeten with Stevia and Xylitol, Eat more good fats: MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acids), omega oils and less transfat or hydrogenated fat. Skip high-fructose corn syrup, foods with additives and MSG. Lower sodium intake and use less salt.
Lose weight with simple food swaps. Trade bread for 35 calories per slice light bread (childrne will never know the difference). Opt for whole grains, couscous, quinoa or oatmeal instead of pasta, rice, bread or potatoes. Order food broiled, baked or steamed over fried foods. Saute in lowfat cooking spray instead of frying foods. Limit condiments and spreads; use yogurt and olive oil-based mayonnaise and butter. Try low-calorie hummus and lowfat cream cheese. For dairy, choose lowfat cheese, Greek yogurt, milk, cheese and cottage cheese. But avoid fat-free foods–you need some fat for digestion. Serve more lean fish and chicken and eat beans, nuts and seeds for protein.