Friday, April 3, 2015

Helping your child maintain a healthy weight

In my solid foods class one of the things I talk about is how important it is for you to help your child establish a healthy relationship with food. It is never too early to start.  
Don't push food. When they indicate that they are "all done", don't coax them to take that last bite or fuss over a clean plate. In order not to waste food, only give them a small amount at a time. Add more on request. Of course give them as much as they want (unless they routinely eat until they barf!)

Offer a wide assortment of healthy meals and snacks. Pinterest is a fabulous resource for creative ways to make food interesting and appealing. Most young children will eat what they want/need. If you have concerns about health or adequate weight gain, it is reasonable to check in with your doctor's office and see where they are tracking on the growth chart. We like to see the height and the weight increasing at a reasonably parallel rate. If your child seems happy, healthy and is growing well, please trust them.

Give positive feedback for trying new foods. (Click here to review my past post on picky eaters) I generally suggest allowing a reasonable amount of sweets (the definition of what constitutes reasonable will vary from family to family.)  I have found that kids completely banned from sugar love it all the more when they have an opportunity to get a hold of anything sweet.

In our family we tried to stress "growing food first". Anything with some nutritional merit could fall into that category. Once your body had enough growing food, if there was room for something extra, that was fine. I would rather not to consistently set dessert aside as a reward.

In spite of our best efforts it is sadly typical in our society to have folks on either end of the healthy weight spectrum. On one end are the kids who are way too thin. While some completely healthy kids are genetically predisposed to be very thin, Anorexia and Bulimia are a real concern. It is real. It is rampant. In my youngest daughter's fairly small eighth grade class, several of the girls had severe cases that landed them in the hospital. It isn't limited to girls. If you have a child (teens and preteens are most at risk) who is losing weight and/or has any food aversions, it is easy to be in denial but please keep your antenna up and check in with your doctors office.

On the other end of the spectrum are kids who are heavier than they should be. As much as we recognize the importance of healthy eating and getting more exercise, putting these things into practice can be a challenge.
Keep in mind that it is not unusual for kids to have a bit of "pre-puberty pudginess" 

I generally don't like to focus on numbers. It also may feel like a veritable minefield opening up the weight discussion with your preteen or adolescent. I would make the focus on health for the entire family. Everyone would benefit from more exercise. The entire family will benefit from eating a healthy nutritious diet.

We are always on the lookout for local programs to support young children and families through this process. The ones that exist are expensive, have fairly long wait lists and require a significant time commitment. Therefore we were delighted when we found out about a new fabulous resource called Kurbo. This is an app that helps get the kids engaged in a healthy eating/exercise plan. I have been eagerly awaiting the moment when it was available on both Androids and I phones and now it is! The folks behind it started out with the Stanford weight loss program. They know what they are doing. The app is free, but to get the most out of this, you can sign up for some coaching. It is significantly less expensive than comparable programs.

The Kurbo folks wanted to share 2 recent fun articles on Kurbo kids & families. The first is about a family in Los Angeles whose young son was told by his doctor that he had to lose weight, and he has lost over 17 pounds on Kurbo.  The second is by the Editor of Parents Magazine who did Kurbo with his daughter.  The results: she lost weight, looks and feels better.  It is great seeing results experienced by these Kurbo Kids!

If you are interested in checking it out, We have a promo code that will give you some savings: NoeValley (no space, capital N, capital V).


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