Behavior ChangeUncategorized

How To Help Your Kids Eat Healthier

By July 13, 2011 24 Comments

I get countless emails each day asking for advice on many different topics.  I try to answer as many as I can or have one of my assistants answer.  I received this from a frustrated mom.  After reading it, I decided I am not the most qualified to answer it, since I don’t have kids.  This is a very sensitive and challenging topic.  So please read the email below from the mom and then comment using the facebook comment box or the blog comment box below the facebook comments to help this mom out.

Our community here, has had so many experiences that can help others out, please share your advice.

Here was her email…

This past spring, the public health nurse visited my daughter and son’s elementary school to do basic health assessments of the students. The typical sorts of things like vision and hearing testing as well as weight and BMI. Reports were sent home for each child. I was not surprised to find that my wonderful daughter was classed as “overweight.” My husband and I felt that it would be harmful to her to have her see the report, so we threw it away and worked together on how best to help her. We sat together that night and talked about what we noticed about her eating habits and activity level as well as assessing our own habits. We concluded that although she’s an active girl—she played volleyball and ran on the middle school track team, she also spends too much time in front of the TV in her down times and has an incredible sweet tooth. While she’s watching, she’s also eating. If there’s any sweets or easy food in the house, like cereal and milk, it goes down the hatch. She’ll consume an entire box of cereal in 2 or 3 days. We know we tend to snack in front of the TV as well and were drinking WAAAYYYY too much soda. That was not setting a great example so we made a plan to alter our food consumption for the entire family so our daughter would not feel singled out.

She noticed right away that we were being pickier about portion sizes—please read the portion size on the cereal box and don’t pour an enormous bowlful—and offering veggies and fruit for snacks and saying that a run to the bakery for doughnuts was not a wise food choice. While we stressed that this was for everyone’s good, our girl, who tends to take everything personally, said that we were denying her her sweets because we thought she was fat. This came out on the occasion that we found the sugar shaker in her room and were wondering what it was doing there, and feeling persecuted she blurted out the very word we were trying so hard to avoid. In trying to explain our concern, I made things worse and now here we are. Every time a food decision is made or we offer this great kid an alternative, she gets upset and says we’re only concerned because we think she’s fat.

Is there anyone out there who has had to help a child lose weight? What troubles did you run into? How did you overcome them? How, with a young woman of 11, do you convince her that you don’t care how much she looks so much as how she needs to make healthy choices? What can I do better as a mom to help her? My husband and I make most of our meals, buy whole wheat bread, limit fat, encourage eating healthy snacks, get our veggies and fruit out there for ourselves and the kids, have kept soda and sweets out of the house, have made a point of being active together—we go to the tennis courts and practice with all three of the kids, swim in the pond with them, etc. etc.—and still our middle daughter complains and is not losing weight and continues to spend more time than she should sitting around, and I am concerned about her self-image. I could really use some advice.

Thanks everyone in advance for sharing your input!