My daughter is looking rather chubby. Oh dear, what should I do?
I look around and realize the whole family is getting heavier. Will others think we are lazy and unmotivated? I wonder how my child is feeling?
What should I do? I don’t know where to begin. If only my child would eat less and exercise more. If only my child looked like Johnny next door…
Being overweight is a multifaceted issue. A frequent topic of discussion amongst family and friends, we are further panicked given the frequent media alerts:
Childhood obesity has become an “epidemic” in Canada. Obesity rates are increasing worldwide, but Canada has one of the highest rates of childhood obesity in the developed world, ranking fifth out of 34 countries. Recent data reveals that 26% of young Canadians aged 2 to 17 years are overweight or obese. Children who are obese are at increased risk of being overweight or obese as adults. Many experts predict that today’s children will be the first generation for some time to have poorer health outcomes and a shorter life expectancy than their parents.
Note to self:
Cut out all sweets, junk food, dessert and find a heavy duty boot camp. Find help to motivate my kid off the sofa and get hooked on a sport.
Ask yourself: What’s the bigger picture?
Consider your ultimate goal in raising your child. Some of us want a slim (that is, not overweight) child at any cost. Others may want to raise a child who transitions into a healthy young adult with a healthy sense of self, a healthy relationship with his/her eating + body, adept at self-care and capable of engaging in healthy relationships with others. What do you want?
By taking a step back we are able to reflect on how we can positively affect our family’s health. By shifting our focus, our intention and attention, we are able to change one family behavior at a time. Small changes add up to big changes and ultimately your long-term family goal of well-being. What would these behaviours look like?
Let's start by looking at what NOT to do: (always good to point these out!)
- Vow never to make desserts again
- Force my child to eat more vegetables
- Force my child to go to boot camp
- Shame my child for his physical appearance
- Ignore the problem
Now let's consider things we CAN do to support healthy family lifestyle behaviours:
- Offer 3 balanced meals each day
- Purchase healthy snacks
- Cook meals at home whenever possible
- Model healthy eating with your children
- Sit + eat with my family
- Cook extra vegetables
- Purchase less junk food
- Try a new after-school physical active programs they might enjoy
- Try a new family activity (e.g. biking or walking)
- Foster a healthy sleep environment by modeling powering down (TV, computers, phones, iPads) ½ to 1 hour before bedtime
- Establish a peaceful bedtime routines to help transition to sleeptime
- Engage in respectful family talk
Focusing on weight (my child is fat) and food (my child has no off-switch when it comes to eating) is counterproductive. Bodies do come in all shapes and sizes. Focusing on healthy family behaviours (feeding and eating, physical activity and movement, sleep and rest, talking and connecting) will help parents transition their child into healthy young adults.
What is your ultimate goal in raising your child? Move forward with one small behavior change at a time and watch your child grow into his/her own healthy weight with confidence.