The total daily calories your child consumes should be enough to support a normal rate of growth and development for his age group, in addition to meeting his energy needs.
Fruits & Vegetables
Each meal should include at least one fruit or vegetable. Serve your child a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Include these healthy food choices in meals and snacks. If your child is not a big fan of vegetables, sneak them in with other dishes such as soups, sauces, stir fry, omelets and baked goods. Shred or grate these healthy ingredients to make them blend in. Offer your child a wide choice of fruits and vegetables. There is bound to be something your child likes to eat.
Limit your child’s consumption of fruit juices and other sweetened beverages. Soft drinks are high in sugar and calories. Offer your child milk and water to drink instead. Any juices your child does drink should be 100 percent fruit juice. Allow your child to drink no more than 12 oz. of fruit juice a day. Milk, sweetened beverages and candy are the foods that contribute the most sugar to a 10-year-old child’s diet. Encourage your child to eat foods low in added sugars. Keep healthy snacks on hand so that your child isn’t filling up on empty calories. Pretzel sticks, fruit smoothies, low-fat or string cheeses and cereal bars made from whole grains are healthy snack choices.
Feed your child foods with nutritional value. Whole-grain, high-fiber foods are more nutritious than breads, cereals and pastas made from refined grains. Choose whole-grain cereals low in sugar. Calories should not exceed the number needed to maintain a healthy weight for your child’s height and body type. At least half of the grains in your child’s diet should be whole-grain products, as these provide fuel for energy. Read food labels and choose products that list “whole grains” as the first ingredient.
Include low-fat or fat-free dairy foods in your child’s diet. Children between the ages of 9 and 18 need to drink three cups of milk each day. Although milk is the best source of calcium, pudding, natural cheeses and yogurt are other dairy alternatives.
Total fat consumption for children ages 4 and up should not exceed between 25 and 35 percent of daily caloric intake. Serve your child foods low in saturated fat and trans fat. Fats should come from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. Cold-water fish, walnuts, flaxseed and vegetable oils are common sources of healthy fats. Fast foods and meals served at restaurants usually have more fat and sugar; therefore, take your child to dine out only on special occasions. By cooking more meals at home, you can reduce the fat content in the foods your child eats.
Solving Your Child's Weight Problem
While your children probably have fewer weight-related health and medical problems than most adults, your overweight child is at high risk of becoming an overweight adolescent and eventually an overweight adult, placing them at risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes later in life.
Childhood obesity is caused by eating too much and exercising too little. Parents should not single out their overweight child and instead make eating healthy and increasing activity a family affair. Limit your child’s television and Internet surfing to two hours daily; have your child eat five portions of fruits and vegetables per day; your child needs at least one hour of physical activity a day; make sure your child eats breakfast every day; limit your child’s consumption of sugar or high-fructose corn syrup-sweetened beverages; eat your family meals together and prepare foods for your meals at home as a family.
Implementing Your Child’s Weight-Loss Program
Starting small with gradual changes such as turning off your television during meals, switching your child from drinking soda or soft drinks to water or skim milk and taking a walk with your whole family after dinner at least once a week. In addition I recommend setting goals for both your child and your whole family, recognizing triggers that may cause your child’s return to their old habits, celebrate your child’s success with healthy rewards, keep it positive and stay flexible.
Creating a healthy weight environment for your children by keeping healthy foods on hand, reducing or eliminating fast food meals for your children, getting them involved with shopping for healthy food and preparing healthy meals and building physical activity into their daily routine such as washing your family car, walking the dog or taking a family bike ride.
Becoming a Positive Role Model for Your Overweight Child
Becoming a positive role model for your children and committing to these changes as parents is one of the best methods of encouraging this behavior in your overweight child. It is important that you demonstrate the importance of healthy lifestyle changes rather than a number on the scale.
Accepting your children unconditionally is extremely important since, feelings about themselves often are based on their parents’ feelings about them and if you accept your children at any weight, they will be more likely to feel good about themselves. In addition, It is also important to talk to your children about their weight, allowing them to share their concerns with you.
Remember, your overweight children often feel self conscious about trying activities where they may not perform well or that might embarrass them as a result of their weight. Also, do not use food as a reward or punishment and make sure your children eat balanced meals when they are at school and other times when they are eating meals outside the home.