Weight Loss Support: United as a Family
Anyone who tries to lose weight needs a support system. This is even truer for children who require the love and support of adults. Even if your child is the only member of your family trying to lose weight, it is important to take that journey as a family. Consider the way your family functions as a unit at mealtime, on the go, and during down time. You may gain surprising insight into your child’s health.
Many families are strained for time. Do you find yourself rushing out the door to school and after-school activities? Do you and your spouse work long hours? Families on the run are often fueled by junk food, fast-food, packaged dinners and high-calorie take-out meals. One of the first traditions to suffer is often the sit down family meal.
Take a moment to consider what you have control over. Can you limit extra-curricular activities and obligations? Can you make time for one or two sit down meals a week? In order for a healthy lifestyle to succeed, your family may need to change at its core. These changes extend to siblings, parents and even pets. Make a commitment as a family. Adopt a new family weight loss rule: Everyone participates, everyone makes changes.
Awareness is crucial when it comes to being part of your child’s weight loss support system. Pay attention to the behavior and eating habits of every member of your family — including yourself.
Study the way your child eats. Does he grab unusually large portions? Does she seem depressed? Does he favor comfort foods like carbohydrates and chocolates?
Do you make allowances for other members of the family, such as allowing your spouse a secret stash of fattening foods or allowing a sibling to have treats after dinner? You may not be intentionally sending negative messages, but your child is receiving them.
Commit to eating healthy foods as a family, with no exceptions. No one will feel left out or slighted when you’re all in it together. And, if obesity statistics are correct, there is a good chance that the child is not the only one in the family with a weight problem.
Don’t stress if you can’t manage a family meal every single night. For many families, the first and most important step is to establish a routine at least once a week. Try a Sunday lunch or Saturday breakfast together if weekdays are too hectic.
Pay attention to the atmosphere at the table. Bickering or negativity will discourage kids from wanting to participate in family time. Keep it positive and set a good example.
Make positive decisions about your family’s meal choices. Take responsibility for choosing healthy foods over convenient foods. Your child’s weight loss program can only succeed with your guidance and positive choices.
Follow these basic guidelines:
- Control where your family eats. Limit fast foods to once a week or avoid them entirely.
- Exercise with kids. Get the whole family moving through group games and sports.
- Never allow family members to eat at the computer or in front of the TV.
- Limit car snacks to fruits, veggies and water.
- Pack a lunch for school and discourage use of vending machines.
- Encourage your child’s school to offer healthy eating for students.
- Have your child carry a water bottle around school during the day. (This may require a note from your physician, but he or she should be more than willing to help).