Diet Plan For Childhood Obesity

January 23, 2012


Since this is still the beginning of the new year, I would like to share some basic guidelines that I give my patients who need to lose weight OR simply need to eat healthier. There are principles here for all of us, including toddlers and young children. Many of the parents who come to see me read the rules and tell me that they are going to follow them, too! That’s the best idea — total family involvement. Nothing that I have written will be a surprise and all of my tips are simply a summary of what you have probably already heard, but need to be encouraged to DO!

Do you want to lose weight and get healthier? Then, you need to start with a few simple steps:

  • Drink only water and low-fat milk (2% or nonfat). Don't drink your calories!
      a. No sodas
      b. No juice
  • Exercise for 30 minutes every day. You must get sweaty!
      a. Indoor: dance to music
      b. Outdoor: biking, walking, running, playing any kind of game or sport that involves running
  • If you eat starch, make sure you are eating protein, too.
      a. Chicken, lean ground beef, fish
      b. Protein stays around longer and makes you feel full longer.
      c. Your body can’t make its own protein, so you have to eat it.
  • Use a small plate, not a large one.
      a. The size tricks your brain because the same amount of food on a small plate looks like a lot more than when it sits on a big plate with lots of space between the food.
      b. Fill it once only.
      c. ¼ of it can be pasta, rice or another starch, but the other portions must be filled with a meat and fruits and/or vegetables.
      d. You can have as many second helpings of vegetables as you’d like. No second helpings of anything else.
      e. If you don’t already have small plates in your house, consider buying an inexpensive, smaller plate for each person in your family and decide to only eat off of that plate.
  • Portion sizes are important!
      a. How big is a portion? The size of the palm of a person’s hand is just about right for that child or adult.
      b. This is very reassuring for those who also think their children are not eating enough!
  • Chew your food and take your time.
      a. If you take plenty of time to eat, then the signals from your stomach that make you sense that you are full have time to reach your brain and tell it to stop eating.
  • I know you are going to eat out. When you do, abide by the following rules:
      a. Ask for water, not soda
      b. Don’t get appetizers unless that is your whole meal.
      c. Upon receiving your meal, immediately divide it in half, pushing one portion to the side to be boxed for another meal. This saves calories and money!
      d. Always order a vegetable or salad with your meal.
      e. Ask for your dressing on the side.
      f. For fast food, select the milk option and the fruit.
  • Never eat snacks out of a large bag.
  • Never snack in the middle of the night or after dinner.
  • Do healthy foods taste bad to you? Maybe you aren’t sure how to cook them.

Additional tips for toddlers and young children:

  • Your toddler should not be eating adult-sized portions
      a. His or her palm size (without fingers) is a portion size.
      b. Don't make your child finish everything on his plate. But, do urge him to eat a variety.
  • If he doesn't like vegetables or doesn't usually eat them, try placing those on his plate first. After he has eaten several bites, then put the items on his plate that he likes to eat.
  • Remember that pasta and rice are not an entire meal in themselves. Add some protein, too.
  • Proteins that people often forget about include:
      a. Fish such as tilapia, salmon and other fleshy fish. Tilapia can be bought frozen and later, easily defrosted for a quick, healthy meal.
      b. Eggs are a good source of protein. Sometimes eggs get a bad "rap" because of cholesterol, but this is not an issue for most children.
      c. Some vegetables are protein, including black beans, lentils and other beans.
  • When getting fast food, ask for milk or water and substitute fruit for the fries.
  • Limit fast food to once per week. I know your day is crazy!

And finally, make a chart, list everything you eat and drink, and keep track. This well help you achieve your goals!

Good luck! I know you and your family can make some healthy changes!

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