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If both parents are obese, each of their children has an 80% chance of being obese. The percent decreases to 40% if one parent is obese. What if both parents are of normal weight? Children have only a 13% chance of being obese. Overweight children are more likely to become overweight adults, and you know what a hard road that is to go down if you yourself have struggled with obesity.
How can you keep your children healthy and prevent them from suffering from the physical and emotional problems that can happen as the result of obesity? These are some ideas for handling the situation in positive ways.
Never Shame Them
Do not blame your children for being overweight, or make them feel bad about themselves or their bodies. Always let them how proud you are of them and how much you love them. Overweight children need more support than ever if they are feeling different from their peers or even bullied at school.
Pinpoint the Causes
While it is easy to say, “It just happened,” or, “It is unavoidable,” the truth is more likely that you can identify some causes of your child’s weight problem. They might be happening at home or at school.
- Not enough exercise – did you know kids are supposed to be active for 60 minutes a day?
- Too much junk food – how often do you opt for fast food for a quick meal while driving your children to activities, or send them to school with chips or a soda in their lunch because they are convenient?
- Too much screen time – a good limit is a total of 2 hours online or in front of a computer, television, or video game console.
- Offering dessert as a reward – never use food as a reward or imply that healthy foods are a chore to get through before dessert.
Involve Your Pediatrician
Doctors do not always recognize childhood obesity or know how to treat it. Bring it up if your child’s pediatrician does not directly address it. You may be entitled to extra help through your health insurance plan. Possibilities include nutritional counseling, enrollment in a weight control program, and sessions with an exercise physiologist.
Be a Role Model
It may not always seem like it, but children look up to their parents. You can help them out by modeling the healthy behaviors you want them to show. You can do that by following your weight loss surgery diet and exercise program – or eating right and being active, just like you want your children to do. Eat a proper breakfast, snack on fruit and vegetables, and make it a point to get active every day. By doing these things, you will help your children learn how to act healthy, as well as keep them from feeling isolated if you force healthy behaviors on them.
You can also be a role model with your attitudes. Complain about your diet to your friends, not to your children. In front of your children, embrace your healthy lifestyle. Kids need to see how much fun you think it is to walk to the library or supermarket, how delicious you find that snack of peanut butter and apple slices, and how neat it is to pack a healthy lunch instead of taking money for the vending machine at school.
Make It Easy
Like you, kids will naturally choose the easy option. So, make the right choices the easy ones for them. Leave washed grapes and string cheese sticks in the fridge for them to grab quickly, and have a fruit bowl on the counter for easy access for snacks. Keep unhealthy treats out of the house or leave them out of sight so they are only for occasional times.
Give Them Control
Let your children be in charge as appropriate for their ages. You can give them options such as:
- “Do you want me to cook zucchini or broccoli in the tomato sauce?”
- “Do you prefer a salad or tomato soup with your sandwich?”
- “Do you want to shoot hoops would you rather walk to the library?”
You can let older kids help you in the kitchen or pack their own lunches from among healthy choices that you offer. That way they can be proud of their own actions.
You may have struggled with your weight for years, but that does not mean you cannot give your children a healthy start. Apply what you have learned throughout your weight loss surgery journey, keep a positive attitude, and stand with them the whole way, and your children can be as healthy as you want them to be.