How to Fat-Proof Your Children

Now, with statistics showing that childhood obesity is on the rise, it is more important than ever to teach your child healthy eating habits. Of course, you cannot totally control whether your child is fat. The most significant factor is genetics. If one parent is obese, a child has a 40 percent risk of also being obese. If both parents are obese, the risk soars to 80 percent,

Even given the powerful influence of genes, childhood obesity has raised so much in the last few years that clearly there must be other factors at play. The good news is that, while researchers work to identify those factors, you can help your child avoid a weight problem by following five simple guidelines that I've developed:

1.      You select the food and mealtimes, children chooses how much to eat.

The healthy and positive way to manage feeding grows out of trust: trust in your child to eat in a way that's right for him or her. It's a process that relies on the child's internal cues of hunger, appetite and satiety to guide the feeding process.

A Duke University study suggests that the more parents control their children's food intake, the fatter the kids become, also, by restricting the food you give a growing child, you interfere with the natural growth process. There is evidence that children who under eat have less energy and slower rates of maturation.

The solution was not to put the child on a diet and promote under-eating. It was to reassure Todd that he would not have to go hungry. When you give children enough food and permission to eat, they relax and stop overeating. The object is to help your child regulate, by himself, the amount he eats.

Babies are born with the instinct to take in just the amount of food appropriate for them. Each child has within him the genetic-blueprint for his growth, and it's not only futile but destructive to try to change it.

Of course it will help your child if you go easy on high-calorie foods like french fries and candy. While studies suggest that fat children are no more likely to eat excessive amounts of these foods than thin children are. They pay more of a price because of their relative inability to burn off the excess calories.

Don't eliminate all high-calorie food, however. If you do, your child will want to sneak sinful” foods. And don't go overboard on low calorie alternatives.

2. Remove feeding cues.

If there are visible reminders of food, people will often succumb. A candy dish or cookie jar is a booby trap for an eater sensitive to such cues. I don't advocate withholding candy or cookies, this is cruel and inhuman punishment. But we should give children such sweets only when they are truly hungry for them.

In the same way, if a child generally eats at a particular spot, say, on the floor in front of the TV, it can be an eating reminder whenever he's there, whether he's hungry or not. Wouldn't it be better to spare him the thought of food at all, except when it's time to eat?

You can help do this by limiting opportunities to eat. Maybe he should eat only at the table, and then just eat, not watch TV or read magazines. That way, he' 11 have to choose between eating and doing something else.

3. Teach slow, relaxed eating.

Your child will have time to enjoy his food and find his natural stopping point if he eats slowly. Have him sit calmly in his chair. Engage in pleasant conversation, don’t use the lime for scolding and airing grievances. If he eats fast, have him wait awhile before having seconds. If you don't deprive him of food, he will learn to tolerate his hunger because he'll know that, before too long, he can make it go away.

The slow eating technique and the delay before seconds are not tricks to get your child to eat less. They arc methods to help him be sensitive to his hunger and appetite, and to use those cues to regulate the amount he eats.

4. Don't treat your child differently because he is fat.

What was a parent to do? If your child is just behaving like other kids, and the only reason you can think of for curbing his eating is his weight, you'd better let it pass. Otherwise he Ml feel singled out and embarrassed, which could cause him to eat even more,

5. Encourage exercise.

The best way to increase exercise for children is to let them do what comes naturally. Even the least active child is a whirlwind by adult standards. Toddlers are constantly on the move; they prefer running to walking. Preschoolers want to climb higher, run faster and play harder than they ever have before.

Pick out active forms of family recreation like biking, but don't force your child to take part. If too energetic, efforts to get your child to exercise may result in his plodding along just to please you or refusing to exercise at all. As with eating, exercise demands division of responsibility; you need to create the opportunity, but allow your child to choose whether to do it.

If you consistently use these methods through your child's growth years, odds are he will be of normal weight. At the very least, you will give him his best chance of keeping the fat off, and of building good eating habits for life.
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