What to do (and avoid) if you feel that your child may be too fat.
First, do not panic! We understand you to be completely lost, the headlines and even the public health experts repeat it none stop – Obesity is the great evil of the century. Obesity is on everyone’s mouth. Obesity this, obesity that… We’re constantly reminded that obesity is linked to many diseases, that it’s pressing to lose weight (and keep it off) otherwise obesity is a condemnation. No wonder you’re freaked out if your child (or yourself!) is heavier than what people make us believe is the norm. You may feel that:
- Obesity = condemnation to poor health (that’s wrong!)
- Obesity = fault of your child/yourself (that’s wrong too!)
- Genetic and biological factors
- hormones, heredity, disease, gender, ethnicity, etc.
- Personal and psychological factors
- anxiety, perfectionism, desire to please, low self-esteem, etc.
- Family factors
- eating and physical activity habits, culinary skills, erroneous beliefs, family dynamics, parents’ attitudes towards their own weight, etc.
- Social factors
- social norms of thinness and beauty, socio-economic status, type of work, peer pressure, etc.
- Environmental factors
- place of residence, access to healthy food, presence of elevators and escalators, lack of bike lane, portion size, ready-to-eat food offer, public policies, etc.
Get allies!Professional support may be recommended depending on the situation. If you think that professional help is needed, know that many professionals can help you in different ways: physicians, dietitians, psychologists, kinesiologists. And in that case, look for empathic and caring professionals. All family members should feel comfortable with their health team.
Empathic and caring professionals with whom the family feels good can help support lifestyle changes that will last.
What can I do now?Simple and concrete actions can be incorporated into your family routine now. The main goal is to choose what the family enjoys and which actions are likely to become a new habit. Let’s be realistic, a habit takes time to implement, so be kind to yourself! We suggest three simple ideas. Don’t hesitate to come up with your own modifications. Try out different things as it’s the best way to find what works for your family! Involve your children to suggest ideas to improve your family health and to adopt a healthier lifestyle (you understand at this point that it is better to avoid presenting the idea as “the little one must lose weight”).
Have snacks easily accessible
Avoid free-for-all without falling into restriction
Involve the whole family and don’t isolate people with excess weight
Involve the whole family and don’t isolate family members with obesity: health is good for everyone!
You’ve just taken the first step!
Caring for the health of your child and your family is a sign that you are a good parent! Keep in mind that incorporating new eating habits is good for everyone, no matter their weight. Creating new habits is an ongoing process, with lots of trial and error. The important thing is to go at your own pace and aim for improvement, not perfection. Improvement is accessible to everyone, perfection, to no one!Finally, if you believe that professional help might be useful, don’t hesitate to consult. Sometimes it can be the little kick needed to know how and where to start.
Improvement is accessible to everyone, perfection, to no one!
World Health Organization
(FRENCH) Treatment of childhood obesity
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