What if your child needs to lose weight?

Losing weight yourself is difficult – but what if your child is overweight and needs to lose weight? How do you guide children? What are the tips and tricks to teach them healthy eating? Read on and take a healthy approach from now on. Together with your child you can ensure that you eat healthier and therefore feel much better about yourself.

Help! My child is too fat!

There is even a TV show with this title, and for good reason. On average, children are becoming heavier – just like adults. In addition to setting a good example, you can positively influence children in many ways. Therefore, read the tips from this article and you can do a lot of good for your child.

‘Finish your plate!’

It is a myth that you necessarily have to empty your plate. We indeed eat our plate empty, because we are used to this. Because of this learned logic, we also eat the bag of chips faster and we tend to only stop eating when something is gone – not when we’ve had enough. Don’t you find it remarkable how often people want to use up ‘the last bit’ from the bottle of wine? That people have so much trouble leaving that enormous bag of M&M’s or liquorice if it doesn’t empty completely?

Save your child that misery. So respect it if a child no longer wants to continue eating (unless this is because she/he finds something dirty). Ask: ‘Have you had enough? Was it good?’ and then have the board cleared. Does the child want something to eat later in the evening? Then consistently say, “If you’re still hungry, I can heat up some dinner.” Do not give the child sweets. If it craves sweets, it means it hasn’t eaten enough from dinner. Your child will gradually learn how much food is needed to feel full and have enough for the rest of the day.

Add structure

Well begun is half done – and this also applies to a diet. So start the day well and let your child have breakfast. A sandwich on the way to school is not effective. Better get up fifteen or twenty minutes earlier and let your child sit at the dining table while she/he eats. Also give the child the choice of sandwich toppings. To influence what they put on bread, you can let them choose between two types of toppings (see also ‘The trick of letting them choose’ under ‘Involve children in meals’).

Provide good structure during the day. At school, children eat their snacks at fixed times. Follow this schedule on weekends as well. Around ten or eleven o’clock the child can eat a piece of fruit. An afternoon snack can be a ‘surprise container’, for example a fruit mix with a pack of raisins, a lollipop or another small sweet in the middle. Provide the child with as many healthy snack options as possible. In the evening, let your child join you for a healthy evening meal. Limit junk food such as fries and pizza to once every two weeks or even less often. Do you still want a weekly snack day? Always serve some vegetables or lettuce with your meal – even with a plate of fries.

Involve children in meals

Learning more about food helps children make better choices. They are also more likely to enjoy meals that they would normally not bother with. If you prepare a healthy meal together with spinach, potatoes and a piece of (fake) meat, your child has also made an effort to do so. You don’t just throw away something you’ve worked hard to create. Children are even proud when they eat something they have made themselves. So involve your child early in preparing meals. Is your child too young or too small to help? Then let him or her stand on a kitchen step and watch you cook. If necessary, you can let your child provide the sauces or herbs.

The trick of letting people choose

It is extra smart to let the child ‘choose’. For example, if you want Italian herbs in your pasta, hold up two types of herbs. Question: ‘Which one should I use? The spicy Italian herbs or the mild Italian herb mix?’ Let the child smell and judge. By giving a child two options, you ultimately largely determine what goes into your dish and your child thinks he or she has more influence. This increases your involvement with the food.

You can also use this trick with vegetables. ‘Are we eating spinach or green beans today?’ ‘What do you think? Shall we take this vegetable mix or the one with beans?’

There are countless variations on this. Apply it and you will be amazed!

Get moving

Teach your child that exercise is fun. It is of course best to exercise yourself, because it sets a good example. Don’t complain about the gym, but afterwards say, “I’m so glad I went!” Undertake sporting outings, such as cycling with the family, going for a walk in nice weather, or going on a hike during a holiday. This is not only good for your child, but also for yourself.

Sport

Does your child have a favorite sport? Does he often play outside with friends? Encourage this. If you let a child play indoors in bad weather, choose games that you can play on the Wii or other consoles that get you moving. Putting your child in a sport only works if he/she likes it. So take a look around together on open days and introduce your child to various sports.

Prevention is better than cure

Is your child not yet too fat? Then follow the tips in this article. This way you prevent your child from developing bad eating habits and encourage healthy eating. This will not only benefit your child now, but for the rest of his life.

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