A Healthy Body Image: Kid Edition

It breaks my heart to hear stories in the news of children bullying one another, especially when the source of the relentless cruelty is attributed to a child’s weight, something I know a thing or two about.  It’s easy to say to our babies, “Honey, I love you just the way you are.  Those kids don’t know what they are talking about.”  But it’s another thing for your child to hear and actually believe what you’re saying.

I’ll never forget being the odd man out in junior high and high school.  While the popular girls got the boys’ attention for being pretty, I got their attention because I was three to four awkward inches taller than them and easily outweighed everyone in my grade by 20 pounds.  As I got older I began to refer to myself as “big boned.”  Really that was my way of saying, “Yeah I know I’m big” without people hearing the quiver in my throat as I said it.

The point to this post is not for pity but to remind parents the crucial roles they play in the lives of the children around them.  Thank goodness I had a wonderful mom and dad who always reassured me that I was beautiful no matter what and always gave me a great sense of self worth.  They always boosted me with confidence which is what essentially combated the words of the relentless kids at school.  It also gave me the confidence I needed to survive.  And more importantly they never once agreed, or gave credit to, any of the insults.

If you feel like your child is struggling with their weight and you want to help but aren’t sure how, here are a few things to try.

1. Offer healthy snacks and allow your kids a choice in what they are eating.  Don’t let them choose between potato chips or Doritos.  Rather, let them choose between strawberries and blueberries, grapes or an apple.

2. Kids learn by example.  Don’t expect your kids to incorporate healthy options into their diets if you are unwilling to do so.

3. Plan your meals a few days in advance and as hard as it may be, avoid the last minute dinner stop to the local Mickey D’s.

3. Take your kids to the store with you and let them choose the veggies and fruits that they like.  If they choose something you’ve never cooked, take to the internet!  One of my favorite sites is Allrecipes.com; you can input your ingredients and the site  generates the top recipes.  This is another great resource to reduce wasting food and money!

4.  Reduce TV/video game time and increase physical exercise.  If they are really resistant, make a game out of it.  Try playing iSpy, while walking around the neighborhood.  Whether it’s playing soccer, riding a bike, or swimming, get your kids up and moving.

If you feel like you’ve tried these tips and a million others and nothing seems to help with your child’s weight gain, consult with a physician.  We have several doctors who work specifically with children and adolescent youth to help them get to, or maintain a healthy weight.  To make an appointment with one of these physicians please call 877.870.3745.

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