Guidelines for Families (with or without) a Fat KId

I prefer “fat kid” over the term childhood obesity. I hate the clinical sound of the phrase.   Let’s just call them KIDS! We don’t need labels for children that describe their physical features!

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 6.12.55 AMThe important thing to remember is they are no different than any other kid weighing less and should not be treated differently. That doesn’t mean that nobody gets ice cream; it means everybody gets ice cream!

Don’t put a child on a diet to lose weight. There isn’t any proof this works and lots of proof it fails miserably by making the problem bigger. The goal is to slow the weight gain or help the child maintain his weight until he grows into it by growing taller.

Here are TEN GUIDELINES for Establishing Healthy Habits for the WHOLE FAMILY

1. No fat talk. If you want to lose weight, just do it but don’t talk about it and please don’t point out your big hips or flabby arms to your kids or in front of them.

2. Feed everybody in the house the same. Do not make special low-calorie meals for one child.

3. Let each family member serve him/herself. Do not place the serving bowls on the table. Suggest everybody start with a smaller portion and go back for more if they’re still hungry. Do not demand they clean their plates and never push the leftover food on your family to avoid throwing away a “little bit too small to save.” (hint: cook less)

4. Keep lots of fruit and vegetables handy for snacking. Don’t call them “healthy” snacks.”

The fruit bowl will be refilled every time it empties. When the pastries are gone, they're gone. Overly restrictive food policies and policing turn kids into fiends when you're not around to control them. Give them ownership of their food choices.

The fruit bowl will be refilled every time it empties. When the pastries are gone, they’re gone. Overly restrictive food policies and policing turn kids into fiends when you’re not around to control them. Give them ownership of their food choices.

5. Don’t be a food cop. Explain that cookies, and the like, are treats and when they’re gone, they’re gone. If they can’t make a package last a week, they won’t have cookies until the next time you do your weekly grocery shopping.

6. Be neutral about food. Avoid extolling the virtues of “healthy food” and condemning the evils of “junk food.”

7. Allow your kids to have input in the family menus. Let them help to shop and prepare the meals.

8. Don’t nag about too much “screen time.”  Involve the children in household chores. They can earn screen time by helping with dusting, vacuuming, yard work, cleaning the car (interior and exterior) picking up around the house and keeping their rooms clean.

9. Play! And play often. Get the family moving doing fun activities.

Play! Playing is fun, it burns calories and it builds self esteem. Instead of a child thinking, "I'm a fat kid," a kid can have a positive identity, "I'm a surfer!"

Play! Playing is fun, it burns calories and it builds self esteem. Instead of a child thinking, “I’m a fat kid,” a kid can have a positive identity, “I’m a surfer!”

Increasing your calorie burn doesn't need to be torture or even mildly unpleasant. It can help to make the day more fun and enjoyable!

Increasing your calorie burn doesn’t need to be torture or even mildly unpleasant. It can help to make the day more fun and enjoyable!

10. No exceptions. Everybody follows the same guidelines!

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is the general manager of Weight Watchers of Maine. She is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. Her experience with her own weight management journey and raising girls has given her insight into the struggles families face with weight, healthy body image, food and physical activity. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news for more than ten years and appears monthly as a guest on FOX network morning program Good Day Maine.