TIPS for KIDS

Over the years, I have had several overweight children come to see me. As well, I have had numerous concerned parents ask me what they can do for their overweight child. This usually prompts me to relate to them my own personal experience of being overweight as a child (I have had my weight under control for several years now, but I used to be the heaviest kid in my class for most of my childhood). I have often said that life works in strange ways, as little did I know that when I was being teased about my weight as a youngster, I would one day focus my entire medical practice on treating overweight patients.

Once this bonding has taken place (as a result of their knowledge of my own personal struggles as a kid), we then proceed to put a plan in place.

Following (in point form) are the tips and ideas that I pass on to the kids and their parents:

 

  • “If It Is To Be, It Is Up To Me”(the children have to want do it for themselves)
  • Avoid the words-“Diet” and “Exercise”
  • Discuss the basic principles in 8 words: Feel Good; Eat Well; Be Active; Drink Water
  • Decrease their fat intake and don’t overdo the breads and starches
  • When drinking fluids, work on drinking water or low cal drinks
  • Decrease TV ,video games and computer time (considered to be one of the major causes for overweight kids)
  • Increase physical  play time -avoid the word  “exercise” – MAKE IT FUN
  • “Fidget factor”(the more you move, the more you will help your weight problem)
  • Avoid good and bad adjectives-use “this choice would be better”
  • Make better “treat” choices and when you want a treat, walk or bike to the store to get them (the old-fashion way)
  • Eat fruit vs. drink (i.e. limit juice intake)
  • De-emphasize the Scale (the scale will lead to a great deal of anxiety) -apply the “blue jeans test” instead to determine weight loss
  • I possibly might outline an eating plan with a specific number of calories (1200, 1500 etc.) but more often ,I will just give general guidelines to follow in each food group
  • Remind parents to have patience ” let their child grow(as in height)into their weight”
  • Parents should avoid singling out their overweight child-make it a “Family Affair” (the family as a whole eats better, drinks water, is active and enjoys playtime together)
  • Work on our Eating Behavior Sheet(EBS)- have the child and parents write down specific problem areas in the six groups
  • “Good news report card” (Bring back the EBS every 3 weeks, marking off in red (like the Ghostbusters sign) the problem or habit that has improved). I remind them that we at our office are here only to encourage them, cheer them on, and help them with the areas that they are having difficulties in.

Understanding the sensitive nature of treating overweight children should be the first priority for all of us. If the above key guidelines are then applied, I feel significant strides can be made to assist the entire household, in helping a child in their family, who might be struggling with an overweight problem.

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