We all know to try and stay away from fast food, as difficult as this may be with time and budgetary concerns. We also know, to turn off the TV, computer and video games and try to get our kids moving. Things are often more easily said than done, however, or all of our kids would be Gap models and First Lady Obama would not have deemed the battle against childhood obesity to be her top priority. Some things are less obvious than the mantras we keep hearing, however, and may actually help.
1. As tempting and, let's face it, easy as it is, do not use food as reward or punishment for behavior. Although this is counterintuitive to many of us, it isn't a healthy habit in which to get, for our children or for ourselves.
2. Don't make the after school snack a meal unto itself. If you do this, your child ends up having two dinners. This can be difficult because they usually come home hungry. You may try feeding them their bigger meal after school with something lighter, later (also better for the adults). This doesn't mean that the family can't sit down together. That family mealtime, besides serving other important purposes, is helpful for slimming because when you are talking, you aren't eating (hopefully!).
3. Here's an "old time" Weight Watchers trick that actually works: use smaller plates. American's are all about the supersize. A smaller plate fools you back into the correct conception of what a portion should be, and ultimately, it's all about portion control. That's why the Europeans eat great and aren't fat!
4. Don't make foods "off limits" all together. Same as for adults, deprivation is a bad feeling for children to experience. Besides providing healthy, low calorie treats, have a mini Milky Way, but one. Six Hershey's Kisses are 150 calories, again, an old weight watchers tidbit.
5. GET RID OF THE JUICES AND DRINK! DRINK! WATER! Drinking water is probably the best thing you can do for your body, altogether, including losing weight.
6. Don't discount little bits off exercise. They all add up. Walk the dog.
7. Encourage your child, instead of being critical. This seems obvious and applies to everything in dealing with both children and adults, but again, often more easily said than done.
8. Focus on the health benefits rather than how they look. Obviously, you don't want to freak them out, but a healthy dose of respect for the impact that fatty and sugary foods have on your body is important. It might inspire a child to appreciate the seriousness of juvenile diabetes or high cholesterol in young people. Remember, young people want to live forever!
9. If it's a real weight loss program that your child needs, do it with them. It's so much easier to have support and feel that you are not alone when embarking on a difficult project. Since most of our kids have cell phones these days, text encouraging messages throughout the day. (Believe me, school or not, they check their phones.)
10. Most of all, and this applies to all of us, one bad day is just one bad day. They will have them. Teach them to "burn it”, throw it away and get back on track tomorrow. Physical fitness is a lifelong pursuit and like anything else, there will be bumps along the way. That's called life and it isn't always easy, for any of us.