I’m grateful again. This time to Dr. Joanna Dolgoff, M.D. for giving me this wonderful guest post. We all make our children’s health a priority, but Dr. Dolgoff also makes it her life’s work. You can visit her here, where she specializes in child and adolescent weight management. I hope you find her tips as useful as I do!
Obviously diet and exercise are the key to losing weight. However, there are many other little things we do every day that either help or sabotage our ‘get healthy’ efforts. Here are some tips on how you can make your child’s weight loss easier without starving of spending hours at the gym.
1. Teach your children to like what they see in the mirror. Focus on their great legs or strong arms. Remind them that their bodies have many wonderful attributes. Dieters with higher self-esteem lose more weight!
2. Help them lose their inner negative voice. We all have that little voice in our heads, telling us that everything we do is wrong. “You shouldn’t have eaten that…” “Why didn’t you go to the gym today?” This voice makes us feel worthless. When that voice arises, tell your kids to tell the voice to shut up! Or teach them to counter back with something positive. “Maybe I shouldn’t have eaten that but I only had a half portion. To make up for it, I will cut back on my afternoon snack.” “I really didn’t feel like going to the gym today but I will go tomorrow, even though tomorrow is usually my off day. I don’t want exercise to seem like a chore; I can reschedule my gym sessions as long as I get in my 4 or 5 days.”
3. Celebrate small milestones. You don’t have to wait until goal to congratulate your children. Set smaller mini-goals so they have that sense of accomplishment. And pick a (non-food) reward. Maybe let them buy that new shirt they’ve been wanting or let them go with their friends to the movies on a school night. Just find something that they want that doesn’t involve food. It needn’t be expensive!
4. Dieting can be stressful. Help your children find a non-food way to deal with stress. Some people like yoga. Others try deep breathing. I like taking a long, hot bath with a good book! Your child may want to spend a few minutes playing a video game. Exercise can also be a stress release. Plan in advance- make sure they know how to handle stressful situations so they don’t instinctively turn to food.
5. Teach your children to enjoy food! It may seem counter-intuitive but if your children really enjoy a meal, they may eat less. First, teach them to eat slowly. Savor the flavors. Notice the feeling of the food on their tongues. They should not just throw the food down their throats. Have them pay attention to the food and allow their bodies the time it takes to realize that it is full.