Many families are struggling with the question “ How to lose weight “? This is a lifestyle change. You’ve probably spent your entire life learning how to live the way you currently are living. So, give yourself a pat on the back, encourage yourself to take that leap of faith and make some changes for your health and your children’s health and future. If your family is overweight or obese, make a plan for lifestyle changes that can lead your family toward a healthier life for decades to come. The tips in this blog do not strictly have weight loss as the objective. But, if one of your goals is to lose weight, then the following tips can lead you to success.
Managing your family’s health and body weight
The key to long term weight management is combining healthy and mindful eating, sound sleep, emotional health, and daily physical activity into your life. And, by making changes to lifestyle and habits for you and your kids, you’ll have a lifetime of benefits. First of all, take a long, hard look at your family’s day to day life in the following issues:
- Calories in = Calories out you must balance how much you eat (calories in) with your activity level (calories out) to maintain your current weight. To lose weight, you’ll need to eat less volume, eat better quality calories so you don’t feel hungry, and you’ll need move more. Does your family over-do-it with serving sizes or drink high calorie, low nutrition drinks? Be mindful of “real food” calories versus “fake food” calories. For more information on this go to allcookedup.com for recipes and real food ideas.
- Don’t just add in healthy foods Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins every day. This is a good start for a family used to eating out a lot or eating from prepared meals or box-type meal helpers. However, you will need to eliminate unhealthy foods (namely sweets, chips, sodas, white breads and other “junk food”). If you don’t do both, you are simply increasing your total food intake and you’ll have an imbalance in calories in = calories out, which will not lead to weight loss and overall health. It isn’t as simple as limiting calories either. All calories are not created equally and low fat, low sugar foods are not the answer.
- Increase your dietary fiber Fiber has no calories, so even though you are eating a lot of foods containing fiber, you are not necessarily getting more calories. Fiber helps with weight loss in a couple ways; it make you feel full longer, it helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels which frees you from energy lows that make you want to snack, and it moves the foods you’ve eaten through the digestive tract more quickly which lessens the time the food is in the intestines so less fats can be absorbed. Typically children age 2 years or older need their age + 6 up to 25 grams total of fiber per day. So if your child is 10 years old, you’ll add 10+6 for a total of 16 grams of fiber needed per day. If there isn’t enough fiber in your family’s diet, click on “fiber” and take a look at this post for some information about fiber content of some foods.
- Increase strength The more lean muscle tissue you have, the more calories you will burn. People who have less body fat typically have a higher metabolism which means they’ll burn calories more easily. When you have extra fat tissue on your body, the fat actually starts working like an endocrine gland (like the pancreas) all by itself. It gets out of control with extra hormones floating around in your system and your body gets confused. And, therefore, it’s harder to burn calories and thus lose weight. To increase lean muscle tissue, children and adults should have a variety of physical activities — some aerobic activities, some weight bearing activities, and some balance/core body strengthening exercises. Your child will move and strengthen different muscle groups in karate compared to swimming, Pilates, or running. So look at your family’s activity and change it up every day.
- Drink water Kids really don’t need anything else to drink except for water. From birth to 12 months of age, a baby needs breast milk and/or formula only. After that, drinking water should be the focus. The more water a kid drinks, the less hungry she’ll be, the better she’ll be able to digest her food, and actually her brain will be able to function much better too! Sometimes that hunger pang you child feels is actually just a sign of thirst. Give your child a glass of water before you reach for a snack and see if the hunger goes away!
- Write down what you are eating Keeping a food journal can actually help you eat less. It’s a proven fact. When you write down everything you eat each day, you tend to eat fewer calories (usually by skipping junk foods you don’t want to record in their journal!). It’s a way to keep yourself accuntable to you. Keeping a food journal is easy. Carry a small note pad and write down the food you ate, the amount you ate, and time you ate it. Sometimes we just don’t realize how much we actually snack or the amount of unhealthy foods we consume. Writing it down helps a lot.
- Manage Stress Stress contributes to weight gain by its effects on specific hormones and digestion. Some stress in our lives is normal, but few of us possess adequate means to manage stress. Teach yourself and your child healthy ways to cope with life’s challenges. One of those things that helps with stress management is getting enough sleep. Establish a set time to go to bed each evening. Some relaxation time like a warm lavendar bath or quiet music time is so important for destressing and winding down. Parents and kids alike need this. Sometimes meeting with a counselor for a session or two to learn new coping skills can be helpful. Meditation and yoga can help too.
- Eat Only When You’re Hungry Many of us eat when we’re bored, upset, or simply eat because the clock says it’s time for lunch. We think we should eat even if we’re not hungry! Next time you reach for a snack or sandwich, check in with yourself and teach your child to do this too — make sure you’re really hungry. If you are, eat until you are comfortably full making sure you sit at a table, have the TV off, and take one bite at a time and enjoy the food’s flavor and texture. This will help you listen to your body and stop eating when you are comfortably full. If you aren’t hungry, reach for a glass of water instead.
- Use Smaller Plates This technique uses your vision to trick your brain into thinking you‘re getting more volume of food! Start with an appropriately-sized dinner plate for your child’s age: the youngest use the smallest sized plates (about 5 inches wide), while an older child (and adults!) may use a 9-inch dinner plate.
As a parent, take the lead in making changes for your family and together you’ll achieve wellness.