How Many Calories Should A Teenager Eat To Lose Weight Your Child Is Fat (Straight Talk For Parents)

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Your Child Is Fat (Straight Talk For Parents)

I could have said “obese,” “overweight,” “burly,” “hefty,” or “chubby” instead of “fat,” but that would be verb rephrases, which are nicer ways to say “fat.” It’s a bit like saying “enhanced interrogation” of prisoners instead of torture. I think we all know what fat means, and I think it best expresses how our children feel. Fat looks and feels ugly. Peers don’t call your kids obese, they call them fat. I realize this expression is harsh but we have a current national health crisis and it is expected to get worse. According to the 2007 John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Human Nutrition study, “If rates of obesity and overweight continue at their current rate, by 2015, 75 percent of adults and nearly 24 percent of children and adolescents Americans being overweight or obese.” Perhaps we all need a dose of reality “in our face.” By the way, I would never directly tell any child that they are fat, but their peers and even their siblings will.

Parents, you may believe there is nothing you can do about it. The majority do nothing. If one or both of you are fat, you probably feel that you have no right to try to intervene. After all, your child will certainly say to any sincere effort to help: “Look who’s talking!” -and you know, your son is right. If you can’t address your overweight problem, you are not a credible source for advice. Right? There is still hope.

If neither of you are fat, I’m guessing you believe you’re a more credible source to offer support, more so than fat parents. However, there are many things to understand about your fat kids. They are emotionally wounded. They get frequent reminders that they’re too big: their mirrors broadcast that; their peers at school callously tease them, and television and teen magazines remind them of how they should look.

Children don’t focus on health issues; they focus on how they are accepted by their peers. Therefore, lecturing about potential problems (diabetes) doesn’t make an impression or provide much motivation to lose weight. They want to be included, liked, and appreciated by their peers. They realize that their fatness prevents them from reaching these powerful and normal needs. At this junction, they have a greater potential for depression and anxiety, which can lead to overeating.

Girls tend to internalize their distress through depression and low self-esteem, while boys tend to externalize it, perhaps by acting out, arguing, using drugs/alcohol, or other antisocial behavior. They feel that their normal childhood has been stolen from them, their discontent is enormous and their future is bleak. How do I know this? They shared these feelings with me in psychotherapy. I felt their pain as their therapist.

With the cautionary advice provided, children should receive a thorough exam to rule out any medical issues that could be contributing to their weight status. When a medical problem exists, it is the joint responsibility of the doctor and the parents to assist the child. Consult with other professionals such as a nutritionist or dietician. If no medical problem appears in the etiology, parents should look closely at the lifestyle choices their children and themselves make. This is easy to say, but very difficult to do. Understand that children and young people now called preteens (ages 11, 12, and 13) are underdeveloped in self-discipleship skills (psychologists call these self-regulatory traits) and perform poorly in supervising their own behavioral choices. It becomes the responsibility of the parent to assist them without seeming to be lecturing, annoying and creating power struggles. This is a tricky balancing act.

With the onset of puberty, the change in body of both genders can be overwhelming for some. Recent research on the effects of puberty clearly indicates that for the majority of preteens and adolescents, puberty is not perceived as a negative event. Puberty doesn’t make your child fat. For those without a medical basis, what makes our young people fat? Let’s examine what you already know.

Think of the word sedentary. Now think about television, cell phones, video games, movies, driving or being driven in a car, the school bus, cutting back on PE classes, increasing sleep hours, and a myriad of other behaviors, and you realize that all these activities are not active, but sedentary. With a huge number of mothers in the workforce, food preparation, nutritional meal planning and a determination to monitor their children’s intake of fatty foods are weakened by the drudgery of contemporary life. Pizza joints, hamburger joints and fried chicken shacks line the main thoroughfares of our cities and towns, inviting the family to park their big asses and eat this stuff with fries on the side. Of course, all of this can be large!

With the advent of working spouses, cleaning and gardening services are often incorporated. I’ve lived in several middle-class subdivisions, where yard service workers descend on neighborhoods to edge, mow, mow, and clear lawns, while pre-teens and teens casually walk around with their cell phones attached to their ears, and of course , multitasking by eating a peanut butter/jelly sandwich on white bread. I don’t think kids are lazy, they just aren’t guided effectively by their parents. Think of the calories that could be burned pushing a vacuum cleaner or lawn mower or washing the car!

Do’s and don’ts for parents.

– As parents, don’t complain about your looks. Your child is likely to do the same. Also, don’t make negative comments about other people’s size, as our children will incorporate the idea that if they grow up to look like the people you criticize, they will let you down. They don’t want to be a failure in your eyes.

– If one or both of you are fat, don’t train your fat kid to do what you don’t. In other words, if you can’t model an appropriate diet or exercise program, keep your mouth shut until you can be an effective model. If you want them off the couch, get off the couch.

– Without nagging, encourage exercise by making it a family activity. Make a request for your child to join you, never make a request as it could trigger a power struggle. If you don’t get what you ask for, want, or desire, you won’t be so upset if you don’t get what you ask for.

– Avoid ongoing discussions about diets. Most children and adolescents are aware of diets. If you push the issue, they are more likely to become oppositional and provocative.

– As a family, learn about nutrition and exercise. They are more likely to cooperate.

– Debunk the myth that “looking good” is the most important thing in their acceptance by others. Honestly focus on their attributes regardless of their body type.

– Most healthy meals can be made in about thirty minutes, which is about the same time it would take to go to a fast food restaurant. Try to have most of your meals at home so you cut down on fatty foods.

– Take your children shopping with you. Together, choose foods that they might enjoy and that are part of a good diet.

– When you see your kids making an effort to eat healthy and exercise, praise them.

– Whenever possible, eat together as a family. Make an effort to have pleasant conversations. Eating becomes associated with positive activities in contrast to food and eating becomes associated with anxiety. Parents, never use food as positive reinforcement with your children.

– Plan celebrations around an enjoyable activity, not a food festival where overeating can occur.

– If your child contacts you and confides in you that he is being teased; he listens, comforts, doesn’t lecture, doesn’t threaten to go to school and confront the teasing kids, the principal, the teacher; just listen and comfort. Ask the child if you can help and accept his answer.

– If the child asks for help, do it to the best of your ability. If you need assistance, find resources in the community. Behavior modification programs have been shown to be effective for weight issues.

– If you suspect your child has an eating disorder, such as compulsive eating, bulimia or hiding food in their rooms; seek professional help.

Obesity in children can, in most cases, be cured. It requires dedicated effort on the part of parents. Once unhealthy eating patterns are established, it is difficult, but not impossible, to reverse them. Parents must be the ones to guide their children who have this debilitating disorder. This must be the mindset of parents. Obesity can develop into a lifelong problem with serious consequences. If you are relying on the child to do something about it, you have established a faulty thought. If you think your child will “get over” the problem, you are wrong. As parents, you must respond as if your child has a treatable disease. There needs to be a discussion between mom and dad so both are on the same page as to what agreed upon plan is in place. You must agree. More than anything, shape what you want your child to witness in your eating, exercise, and lifestyle habits. Let them see you deny yourself a second helping of potatoes, get off the couch to go for a walk, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and wash your car. Day after day, they will gradually witness good habits, and without say a word, they will follow. Do it. Your child’s health, body image, and self-esteem are worth the effort, don’t you think?

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