Little Peggy comes home from school, but she doesn’t tell her mom about her day, instead she heads to the living room and watches the TV. She doesn’t ask to have any friends over, or if she can go over to a friend’s house; not the typical attitude of an elementary schooler. Her mom doesn’t know how to respond, so she offers her an after-school snack: cookies and milk – Peggy’s favorite.
The next day, Peggy asks for two cookies, after that she wants some potato chips. Soon she begins to refuse many fruits and vegetables, and ask for more desserts. With each day, she wants more food, and she spends less time outside or with her friends, and more time on her electronics. She starts to gain weight at a faster rate than her classmates. So, what does that mean for Little Peggy?
Peggy might be starting her journey on the road to childhood obesity. Peggy, however, is not alone on this journey. Many kids in our community are on their way. So, what can you do as a parent to help your child?
First, recognize the warning signs
Look for your child being out of breath when participating in regular activities, such as walking around the house or doing simple chores. Do they complain about joint pain? If they are inactive, then this is a sign of excess pressure exerted onto the joints that can cause major issues later in life.
Does your child seem isolated? Children are influenced by thinking they aren’t good enough to be friends with this person, or talk to that one because they aren’t confident with the way they look. It can cause them to isolate themselves, or be isolated by those who believe in a specific body standard. Many children associate overweight people as lazy or sloppy, and this can cause a drop in self-esteem, low confidence, and lack of motivation.
Then, take action
You should never use the words “obese” or “overweight,” because it could spike a negative effect on a child’s mind. You should discuss with your family that a change in diet and exercise will help everyone feel better and stay healthy.
Make being healthy fun by setting up small challenges for your child to complete. When they complete a challenge, you should reward them in an appropriate way that doesn’t set back their progress. For example, if they eat their healthy, well-balanced dinner, then they can have a healthy treat, such as a frozen banana dipped in chocolate. Or if they spend 30 minutes riding their bike, then they can watch a 30-minute TV show. A reward helps them look forward to completing the next goal. Start with baby steps, and don’t get upset with your child if they don’t complete a challenge, instead, let them know that this happens to everyone. Never make excuses, because it just makes room for more excuses in the future.
Start eating differently
You can start with small steps by reducing the portions of bad food intake by 25-50%. Bad foods – such as foods high in fat and sugar – can cause heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and much more. Though it seems obvious to reduce these, you should also not consume large amounts of egg yolks, red meats, and processed meats.
So, what can you eat? Start small by replacing white rice with quinoa or brown rice, or peanut butter with natural almond butter. You should also increase the portion of fruits, vegetables, and unsalted nuts and seeds. Instead of using vegetable oils when cooking, use olive oils. Try to increase the amount of water you and your child drink throughout the day. Infusing your water with fruit naturally flavors water. Another tip for reducing intake and shaving off extra weight, is to eat until you are no longer hungry, not until you are full. Learn more about building a healthy eating plan for your family here.
Make exercise enjoyable!
As with everything else, start small. Exercise for 15-30 minutes a day and increase the time steadily. A fun activity would be to walk with a pet in the mornings and evenings – not only is it exercise, it can help you bond with your pet! You could also visit a trampoline park, a beach, or a zoo! These all are fun places to visit that will help you exercise without thinking about it. For more ideas, click here.
Did you know that exercise reduces depression, anxiety, stress, ADHD, PTSD, and heightens self-esteem? Exercising also helps to make a sharper memory, improve concentration, give you better sleep, more energy, a better immune system, and a stronger resilience to cope. It strengthens bones and decreases blood pressure!
You are not alone
If you’re concerned about your child’s health and weight gain, visit Orchard Hospital’s Medical Specialty Center – Your Everyday Health Care Clinic. We have locations in Gridley and Oroville and a doctor is more than willing to help. They can help educate you and your child on diet and exercise. Remember to eat well and exercise, and you’ll be set for your journey to weight loss and a healthier lifestyle.
Our mission at Orchard Hospital is to provide our community with superior health care. We strive to ensure that your experience at Orchard Hospital is as pleasant and comfortable as possible. Our priority is to provide you with the care you need when you need it, with skill, compassion, and respect.