Before being horrified at the prospect of a child or teen on a “diet,” understand that there is a huge difference between a healthy eating diet and a weight loss diet.
The reality is that young children can be overweight, and overweight children can feel uncomfortable with that extra weight and are even made fun of. If your child is overweight, pretending a problem doesn’t exist will not make it go away. If your child had acne or needed a tutor, you would not object to taking the necessary steps to fix that. Weight is no different.
Just as you want your child to have social skills, academic skills, etc., your child also needs healthy lifestyle skills.
If the subject of weight or healthy eating is approached incorrectly, it is a risk. But if you approach it correctly and positively, it will be one of the best gifts you can give your child. Creating an environment where your children can make healthy nutritional choices is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure their health.
By fostering a supportive environment, you and your family can develop a positive relationship with healthy food.
Here are some tips for getting children to eat healthy food and form wise nutritional habits.
Other considerations when working with teens:
Teach your children how to eat for life, not just “diet”
Young minds are very formative. My goal when working with anyone, and especially teens, is to teach them the proper way of eating and to empower them with the knowledge they need so that they can continue eating correctly for the rest of their lives. I don’t think anyone is too young to understand food groups or how to read a food label. Even a young child can count the ingredients list. They should know that if there are more than five, the food is usually not healthy.
Beware of eating disorders
Being healthy is great, being obsessed is not. It is important for professionals and parents to watch out for signs of eating disorders. Some signs may include: sneaking food, obsessive weighing, wanting to lose more weight than necessary, constantly thinking and talking about food, abusing laxatives, or excessive exercising.
Boost their confidence
Compliment your daughter’s necklace or headband, admire her grades, or notice how pretty her smile is. Do not talk about her weight. Do not let that weigh down (pun intended) her confidence.