Obesity not only creates social anxiety in your child but it leads to a number of long-term health risks such as heart disease and diabetes.
That’s why it’s advisable to deal with the problem at an early age. But how? Watching your child struggle with being overweight can make any parent feel overwhelmed and helpless. It is important to note that restrictive and crash diets are harmful for children but there is a lot you can do to help your children get healthier in the right way that has nothing to do with extreme regimes or harsh words. Here’s how:
Stop rewarding them with food
Do you reward your children with sweet treats and junk food to express your love or celebrate their accomplishments? If so, you are subconsciously training their minds to associate unhealthy food with happiness. Eating healthily and giving your body the best nutrition is a much better way to be good to yourself and it’s something your children can and should learn from you.
Lead by example
Children are led by example. If they see you snacking on junk food all day, drinking fizzy drinks and eating indulgent foods, they are likely to do the same. Instead, make a conscious effort to eat healthy foods around them. Control what you are bringing into the house to keep them away from temptation and to help define what ‘normal eating’ means to them.
Read food labels
Don’t fall for marketing gimmicks. Just because something is marketed for children or is labelled as healthy or organic doesn’t mean it actually is. Keep an eye out for artificial sweeteners, preservatives and harmful ingredients. Avoid sugary cereals, which are common in most households. Look at the calories in your children’s snacks as well. It is important to feed them nutrient-dense food and not just empty calories.
Don’t cut out sweets entirely
If your child has grown up eating sweets, a total ban will result in cravings and overindulging when they do get their hands on some. They are likely to go behind your back to eat them, too. Instead, allow some chocolate or candy once in a while, in limited quantities, but prioritize fresh fruits instead.
Limit device usage
When your children spend hours on their smartphones or tablets, they’re not moving much. That is also when they tend to mindlessly snack on junk food. It is important to limit devices to an hour or so per day to encourage movement and physical play time.
Sign your kids up for a sport they are interested in. This helps them get fit, stay active and even improves teamwork and social skills. It will help them stay busy and away from junk food. It is important that they see this sport as something enjoyable and not as a punishment for being overweight.
Get creative with movement
Encouraging your child to move more does not have to stop at playing a sport or hitting the gym. Something as simple as parking the car further away to encourage them to walk can be helpful. Dance lessons, activity-based family outings, taking the children to walk your pets and getting involved in their play time are all great ways to make children move more without even realizing it.
Teach them with love not fear
The process of trying to get your child to lose weight can backfire if you scare them or punish them into doing it. It takes more mental than physical effort and the goal is to make them enjoy the process and want to do it. Lead by example, make it fun for them, show them you love them and the results will come.
Yasir Khan is a body transformation expert and celebrity trainer.