Overweight kids: 5 fast tips

Out with any thought about dieting your child. In with thoughts about making household changes to everything around food and eating.

5 fast and key household changes

Give the grocery lists, pantry staples, fridge fillers, crockery, and dining zones a makeover.

  1. The fastest and first place to start is with drinks. Out with regular sugared soft drinks/soda pop, sports drinks, energy drinks, juices and cordials. In with water. If kicking the coloured sugared drinks is going to create a battlefield, start with a swap to low joule, low cal, sugar free, or 'diet' drinks. Be very careful and selective. Do not bring regular sugared drinks into the house for anyone else. No child needs soft drinks. Come to think of it, no healthy adult really needs soft drink either.
  2. Replace frozen potato creations such as gems, wedges, chips, hash browns and balls with real, fresh potato and other brightly coloured vegetables. It doesn't matter if those frozen creations claim to be 'oven-baked', all natural', or have a 'tick/seal of approval'. Get rid of them out of the house. You are not helping your child's health. You are also adding to your child's weight problem if you feed your child reconstructed potato gems/wedges - no ifs, no buts.
  3. As an adult, stay in control of the shopping list. Too often I hear parents asking their kids 'what shall we have for dinner' whilst hovering over the crumbed meats and sausages. The better question is loaded with a choice between unprocessed foods. For example, shall we have fresh chicken or beef strips with our vegetables tonight? Ideally the decision is made long before you hit the shops ... in the car on the way or at home when planning the week's shopping and menu.
  4. Break the need for a feed when watching the big screen. Have everyone sit at the dining table for all meals and eating events and turn off all distractions. TV off. DVD off. Mobiles off. No distractions. Record favourite shows to replay later on. Serve and eat breakfast at a table before school. Serve and eat after-school mini-meal/snack without distraction at the table or seated outside in the fresh air. Lunch on weekends at the table or as a picnic outside - again without distraction.
  5. Keep a watchful eye out for the fridge-divers. These are the kids who devour too much dairy product: milk, yoghurt, cheese and ice cream. These are all easy-eats. For a child who is a lazy chewer, dairy products are a quick way to swallow loads of excess fuel without even feeling over-full. After a big guzzle of milk, the child may still back up for dinner without any hesitation. If you're not at home when the kids return from school, you may not be aware of how much dairy they're scoffing down. Make a note of how much dairy product you buy and how often you buy it. How much dairy product does a kid need to keep bones and teeth strong? It changes with age and my book "this=that child size" details the real-life actual serve sizes and number of serves for ages 4 through 13 years.

if your child is overweight

Is your child a little chubby, perhaps overweight or maybe obese? Have you checked with a doctor, dietitian or school nurse?

Maybe your child is a healthy weight and you simply want to guard against a weight problem being passed down the family tree from you to the kids?

How much food does a kid need to keep growing tall yet slim down the excess chubby fat? Why be concerned about your children if they are overweight?

If your child is overweight, there is no need to start a 'diet'. In fact, starting your child on a special 'diet' is an unhealthy approach.

What you do need to do is change a few things in the child's current diet, the food and drink in a typical day and week.

concerned about your child's growth?

Measure each child's growth (weight and height) and then check the growth chart to see if where your child's growth sits. Use this free web calculator to see if your child is overweight or not.

Speak with your doctor and Accredited Practising Dietitian. Take "this=that child size" in when you go and, if necessary, your child's dietitian will be able to fine-tune your child's eating plan even further.

It is usually best for parents to get continued advice without the child present.

After all, turning your child's health and weight around is nothing to do with dieting but more to do with different household choices. And adults are in control of the shopping and what gets served at home.

Now Only

this=that child size "seconds or better"