The problem of obesity in children has been highlighted for many years. How can a mom help her child lose weight in a healthy way without making her child feel bad? Here is a blog from a Circle of moms blog by Karen.
As someone who has struggled with my weight since I hit puberty let me share some suggestions of what not to do first.
First dont compare her to ANYONE else, not her peers, not her siblings, and especially not the people in the magazines, this will add to body image issues and will either have her hyperfocus on her image, and develop an eating disorder OR cause her to eat more… which is also an eating disorder.
Second, dont give her the lectures on how being fat (or any other choice of words with the same meaning) is bad for her health and can cause problems later in life, if she is old enough to understand this, then she has heard it before, and if she hasnt then fear can cause anxieties, thus triggering aforementioned eating disorders.
Third. Dont withhold the foods, or hide them, or remove them from the house entirely. Everything in moderation. If your household becomes “Junk free” then she wont know how to moderate it in the “real world” and will either learn to hide or horde it, and wont learn the meaning of moderation.
Portion Control is the best way to start. do it gradually, as it will take time for her stomach to shrink. have some fruits and veggies on hand for healthy snacks, and have that “junk” for an after dinner treat. if she knows she has one treat coming her way in a day, and that one treat in a day is for example her “reward” (bad word choice but I coudlnt find another) for healthy eating and more specifically not over eating during the day, it shows her that these things arent necessarily a bad thing, but again, moderation.
Watch the processed food intake. we all use them for convenience, fast pastas (KD, zoodles etc) when we are running out of time, but we dont realize that it isnt just those that are harmful. I have recently started losing weight, for the first time in 15 years I am out of plus sizes (YAY ME!) I still have some work left to do, but I am doing it carefully. I only eat pasta once a week, maybe twice a week. I try not to eat white breads. I drink LOTS of water (crystal light singles are a great purse idea if she doesnt like the taste of plain water) Increase her fibre intake. I didnt realize how much my system was withholding until I ate oatmeal chocolate chip muffins every morning for 2 weeks, and lost an entire “dress” size (went from an 18w to a 16w!)
And like many others, make sure that there isnt something causing her to be gaining/holding her weight. One thing to not discount is the vicious circle of depression. Teen girls are more susceptible to it, and they MAY not show the traditional signs!! I was a happy, perky teenage girl, on the outside. Had a boyfriend on the football team, even was a cheerleader for my last year. Inside everything was different. I suffered an anxiety disorder I didnt know about then, and was a closet cutter. I hated my weight, but was a compulsive & comfort eater, especially when I was upset. Teenage girls can be terribly vicious more so now than when we were growing up, so the other thing is make yourself available to her, without prying try to know what is going on in her life, is she being bullied or teased in school? (even if she isnt a teen, these things start young now, as early as grade 2 or 3!) and if she is overweight, she will be the kid EVERYONE picks on, adding to the need to comfort eat, because ice cream is always our friend, right? give her someone to talk to, or something that she can get it all out in like a journal. If she needs help getting that started, maybe give her a question every day that she can write about until she feels comfortable using it, not necessarily about the bad stuff. My favourite, and go to question is, what was the best thing that happened to me today, and what do I wish I could change? she might find that after a few days of using 1-2 sentence answers, those sentences turn to paragraphs, and then pages from a single entry.
Most of all be positive, and encouraging, and supportive. When she does good, reward it with something like a new pair of jeans in a smaller size (if she is at an age where that matters to her.. my 8 year old LOVES shopping, so that for her is an excellent reward for anything) even if they come from a thrift shop ( remember these ones are already broken in, and comfortable, and sometimes have the greatest designs and styling done on them, especially the kids stuff!) because you may find that if her clothes are too big, that is rewarding for her yes, but also uncomfortable, and she may stop trying just so she doesnt have to keep pulling up her pants every 5 minutes!
I hope some of what I have said helps. A lot of it may have seemed like rambling, but trust me when I say, all of these things are important, and might even be important to your daughter. Talk to her, without judging, to see if there is a reason she knows that she is a little bigger… you might be surprised at the answer… and if all else fails and you can’t talk to her, or she isnt ready to talk to you, a counsellor might help her work through any emotional issues she might have that may be contributing. Good Luck!