Kids may be overweight due to overeating, a lack of exercise, poor sleeping habits or medical conditions. Putting kids on diets may be too restrictive or compromise nutrition intake; instead, focus on making small, progressive changes towards a healthier lifestyle. Kids can lose excess weight by eating a nutrient-rich diet, practicing moderation, using portion control and increasing physical activity.
Focus on Variety
Serve kids nutritious meals that that emphasize vegetables with lean protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. Cook a variety of foods to expose them to different tastes and discover what they like. Sometimes, cooking foods with a different technique can help kids enjoy a food more. For instance, roasted sweet potatoes and Brussel sprouts are sweet and flavorful versus plain boiled veggies. Snack on fun, finger foods like crunchy carrots with hummus dip or apple slices with cheese. Kids can still enjoy desserts like a slice of cake or a few pieces of candy. By eating nutrient-rich meals, kids will more likely be satisfied with one slice of cake instead of two and not feel deprived.
Kids can lose up to 20 pounds by making healthier choices at breakfast. Typical breakfast foods such as cereal are often high in sugar. Sugary foods cause blood sugar levels to rise and fall, leading to hunger cravings, overeating and weight gain. Dietitian Leslie Beck, in the Globe and Mail, suggests choosing cereals that have no more than eight grams of sugar and at least five grams of fiber per serving. In addition to low-sugar cereals, look for breakfast foods that contain protein and healthy fats. Protein is satiating while healthy fats are essential for healthy brain and bodily functioning. Breakfasts such as scrambled eggs with avocado and smoothies made with milk, fruit and almonds are delicious and nutritious.
Move It and Lose It
Children can lose weight without deprivation by exercising more. Find fun ways to exercise by joining kid recreational clubs such as soccer, hockey and basketball. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children should engage in 60 minutes of moderate-intensity activity daily with three of those days involving more vigorous exercise. However, kids who need to lose weight may need to exceed this guideline. Start with 60 minutes of daily activity such as brisk walking, playing soccer, swimming or biking and gradually add on minutes to reach 70 to 80 minutes of exercise per day.
Kids can lose weight by eating nutrient-rich vegetables that are high in fiber but low in calories. Fiber is an indigestible plant carbohydrate that aids digestion and stabilizes blood sugar levels. Eating fibrous foods prevents hunger cravings that lead to overconsumption of sugary and fatty foods. Kids will not be as inclined to reach for extra snacks and desserts if they are already full. Most vegetables are also low in calories, low in sugar and have little to no fat.
- Parents: Help Kids Lose Weight
- Centers For Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity: How Much Physical Activity Do Children Need?
- Patient.co.uk: Obesity and Overweight In Children
- New York State: Department of Health: Preventing Childhood Obesity: Tips For Parents
- The Globe and Mail: What Should I Look For In a Healthy Cereal?
- NHS: Physical Activity Guidelines For Children and Young People