Obesity in children has been increasing by leaps and bounds in the past few decades. 1/3 of American children are now overweight or obese. 1/4 of British children are overweight or obese.
Policymakers tell parents to feed their children less and get them to exercise more. This advice is accurate, but leaves many parents shaking their heads and saying "But how exactly do I get my child to eat less and exercise more?"
Some well-meaning parents put their overweight children on a diet. But forcing an overweight child to go hungry will backfire. Overweight children often have strong instincts protecting them from famine. Triggering a "famine" by forcing them to diet can make them crave food -- especially high calorie food -- even more. Their brains are now on alert because they have experienced the threat of starvation, and try to protect the children by making them put on more fat stores by eating lots of high calorie food.
The only permanent solution to obesity is to teach your overweight child to like healthy, low calorie foods that don't cause obesity.
Here are 5 little-known tips to help your child make the transition to liking healthy foods.
Tip 1: Stop All Junk Food Right Away
Children (and lab animals!) who are given junk food will inevitably choose the junk food over healthy food. Overweight children are especially susceptible to this. If junk food is removed, children (and animals) will actually go hungry for days before eating the healthy food.
Your child has little or no chance of learning to like healthy food if he is also eating junk food. The healthy food simply won't taste good.
Stop buying sweets, chips, fast food, and processed food. Your child will complain for a while, but in a month or two he will adjust to his new diet and like it just as well as he liked the junk food.
Tip 2: Give Your Child 5 Servings of Vegetables Per Day
Vegetables are the lowest in calorie density of all foods. Make sure your child gets 5 servings of vegetables a day. Give him vegetables for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. And make sure they taste good. You can search for highly-rated recipes online.
Tip 3: Only Give Your Child Milk, Water, and Herb Teas to Drink
Your child's brain does something astounding when your child drinks. It assumes that all liquid is water! This means that your child's brain does not register calories in liquids!
If your child drinks 200 calories per day in soda, it will not decrease his appetite. He will eat as much as if he didn't drink the soda.
This means that he will be taking in 200 extra calories a day!!
Scientists have found that soda is one of the biggest predictors of childhood obesity.
Only give your child milk, water, or unsweetened no-calorie drinks like tea. Your child's brain does recognize the calories in milk, perhaps because it is a substance that humans have always drunk. Sugar-sweetened beverages are simply too new in our evolutionary history.
Tip 4: Don't Give Your Young Child Choices Around Food
Even a normal weight child will make poor food choices. Overweight children, however, are victims of their brains, which are compelling them to eat large amounts of high calorie food.
Don't let your child browse in the kitchen. Feed him the same food that you feed the other members of the family.
You may experience a month or so of rebellion because your child is used to demanding food at the grocery store or browsing through the refrigerator when he’s at home. If you allow no exceptions, however, your child will accept the new rules within a month or two.
Once your child is a teenager, you’ll need to teach him to make wise decisions around food. At this point, give him the responsibility of making food decisions for himself and the family. Allow him to choose the menu for the family dinner, as long as the foods are healthy. Teach him to cook quick, healthy meals full of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Tip 5: Feed your child a variety of foods over the long term, but limit variety each day.
Human beings eat more food if there are a variety of dishes spread before them. You probably notice that you eat a lot of food at a buffet, where you can sample many tasty items.
You'll want to teach your child to like many different varieties of healthy foods, so you'll want to give him many different dishes in the long term. But limit the number of foods he eats for meals to two or three.
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