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Got Chubby Kids or a Fat Teen? Here's What to Do About it!
Childhood obesity is a very serious concern and it's no secret that the number of chubby kids is climbing and they are on then on the way to becoming a fat teen and ultimately an unhealthy adult.
Our inactive lifestyles and processed food diets are leading to the increase. In fact, about 1 in 6 children are overweight or obese now. Sadly, this puts them at increased risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease later in their lives. Nobody wants that to happen to them so why not put in some extra effort now.
This 1 in 6 statistic was taken from the CDC website and it provides a pretty dismal outlook, but we can change these statistics by doing two simple things you already know about: Feeding our kids higher quality foods and encouraging more daily movement so our chubby kids can be healthy vibrant kids who will live long lives, and ultimately not become a fat teen or adult.
It's No Secret You Need To Change Their Diet and Get them Moving
Have you ever heard the phrase, "You can't exercise off bad food?" Well, it's truth and it follows then that a huge part of the chubby kids epidemic is food quality.
So, the answer is not as simple as increasing exercise. Nor do you want to take away major food groups; putting them on radical diets. Kids obviously have different needs from adults. They need more of everything to put it simply.
This includes carbs, fats, fiber, protein, and all the nutrients found in whole foods. However, we tend to forget that they survive and thrive without candy and toaster pastries.
The marketing of highly processed junk food that is aimed to children is disgusting. It makes it very hard for parents who want to feed their kids better. Sometimes it seems like an all out war against people who want to be healthy.
As kids, we gave in to the allure of junk food plenty of times; probably too many times.
However, now that I know better, I try harder to encourage my grown kids to make good choices. I follow an 80-20 rule of thumb. Serve the kids all the good stuff at least 80% of the time and let them choose some "fun" foods 20% of the time; like on special occasions.
Deprivation is Never Good
This is important because if they feel deprived it could backfire with binges as soon as they are out of your sight and control.
I remember having a set of cousins whose mother really got it and never used white sugar or flour. Good for her right? She even gave them the best vitamins and always fed them home cooked, healthy meals.
Well maybe she was a little too strict with them about food because when they came to visit us, the more "normal" family, they typically had a pocket of full of money they had secretly saved up and we would walk them down to the general store.
At this fun little store, they would proceed to practically buy out the candy shelves and binge on everything "bad" until they went back home. I didn't want that to happen with my kids. I wanted them to feel balanced, satisfied, and not deprived.
Here are Some Helpful Dietary Tips
- Breast Feed them as infants if you can. -Experts recommend breast feeding in infancy and for the first six months as one way to start them off on the right track. Introducing cereals and other solid foods too early is not a beneficial thing and could set them up for higher risk of weight problems later.
- Eat the Rigth Carbs. -They also recommend getting carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, and legumes as much as possible. In addition, grains can be as tolerated by the child but they should be whole and not processed (and I personally think organic). When we do this, we are providing a diet that is low in sugar/processed carbs and high in nutrients and fiber.
- Follow that 80-20 Rule discussed above. -So they are not feeling deprived. What kid wants to go to a birthday party and not be able to indulge in the same treats as the other kids?
- Control blood sugar.- Blood sugar swings can result in unhealthy weight gain especially around the middle. You can also read this post about hypoglycemia in kids. Keeping net carbs on the low side can help as well as making sure enough protein and good fats are included in meals.
As mentioned above, diet is critical in the battle against childhood obesity. However, movement is really important as well and without both, weight control is difficult.
Ultimately, we know that there are many health benefits to exercising for everyone. I feel like kids were made to be in near constant motion. We have created a culture where playing outdoors doesn't feel safe anymore.
Essentially, the real entertainment is in front of a screen watching TV or playing video games.
Even communication is more digital amongst children with texting and social media. There is not much to entice them to get outdoors these days. No wonder it seems like every few kids sadly ends up as a self conscious fat teen.
Here are some ideas that will inspire more movement at home:
- Start a step-off competition to see who in the family can take the most steps in a week. Get creative and offer a prize to the winner.
- Assign active chores like washing the car, vacuuming, shoveling or raking. Try helping them land a paid job for a neighbor dog walking or mowing to increase motivation.
- Get the kids' friends together and go outside. Kids are much more likely to be active when they have a friend to play with.
- Choose hiking, biking, ice or roller skating instead of a trip to the movies as your weekend family activity.
- Encourage and support your child's involvement in an organized sport.
- Help them discover a fun hobby like bird watching, nature photography, or gardening that gets them connected to nature while moving those bodies more.
- Park at the opposite end of the mall from their favorite store.
- Take them to the playground regularly.
- Set up an outside treasure hunt or hide and seek game in the neighborhood.
- Walk or ride bikes to school and friends homes when possible and safe..
What works for you?
Can you add to my list? What has worked well for you? What resistance did you experience and how did you handle it?