Ask the Experts by Donna Morrison
Q: I’m worried about my daughter’s weight and unhealthy eating habits, but I don’t want to put her on a diet. What else can I do to help her lose weight and eat healthier foods?
A: First, it’s important to focus on good health without overemphasizing body weight. Introducing healthier options for snack and meal times will provide your child proper nutrition, while also promoting positive eating behaviors.
Portioning is extremely important in the fight against childhood obesity, so be sure to plan appropriately sized meals. Getting the entire family involved is another great way to adopt and promote a healthier lifestyle without setting apart one child. Additionally, you can review the National Dietary Guidelines at ChooseMyPlate.gov for information regarding the primary food groups, nutritional values and portioning.
Q: My son has started gaining weight. I have noticed him snacking more lately, but because we keep only healthy food options in the house, I thought it was fine. What should I do to prevent him from gaining any more weight?
A: Regardless of the nutritional value, overeating even healthy foods will still cause your son to gain weight. Planning sensible portions is crucial when it comes to establishing a healthy lifestyle.
Increasing your child’s physical activity is another excellent way to prevent childhood obesity, especially if he isn’t currently engaged in any physical activities. Furthermore, limiting inactivity, such as watching television or playing video games, will also decrease the risk of childhood obesity.
Q: To promote a healthier lifestyle, my husband and I have banned sweets in our home. My kids were not too happy about this, but I want them to start eating healthier. Was this the right thing to do?
A: Although sweets are considered non-nutritious foods, all foods in moderation can be incorporated in a healthy diet. It is important to teach your children that sweets are acceptable on occasion, as opposed to depriving them of sweets entirely, which may increase the likelihood for him to overindulge when he has the opportunity.
Additionally, be sure not to label certain foods as “good” or “bad.” Doing this may instill a negative attitude towards food, which could lead to other poor eating habits.
Donna Morrison is a registered dietitian, formerly with Beaumont, Grosse Pointe.