Children's weight is getting to be an obsession with grown-ups -- with concerns over obesity on one side, body image and eating disorders on the other. The safest approach may lie in focusing on weight as a matter of health rather than beauty, and teaching your child to eat in ways that will give the most energy and nutritional benefit. That's the approach taken by Get a Healthy Weight for Your Child,
a book that presents a detailed plan for improved nutrition and exercise. If your child's weight is an immediate concern and you're ready as a family to make a significant commitment to changing your lifestyle, following that plan is an excellent project to take on and follow through. But even if you can't make that commitment right now or don't need to go to that degree of effort, the book has plenty of good suggestions and information to help you teach your child about healthy eating. Read or at least skim through Chapters 3-6 to give yourself a good base of knowledge about healthy and unhealthy foods, and then use these tools from Chapter 8 to teach your child healthy habits:
- Make a large wall chart based on the nutrition goals on page 224 and give your child a sticker or other small prize for each daily amount met.
- Award points for successfully meeting the nutrition goals on the chart and hold a family competition to see who makes the most in a week.
- Set weekly program goals like those described on page 226, and work on them daily with your child.
- Make a project to fill out the worksheets on pages 232 and 233 with your child. Have your child help you come up with goals based on the answers.
- Take a little time each day to look at serving sizes, using information on packaging and the chart on page 237. Practice measuring and comparing different servings.
- Take your child grocery shopping and challenge him to use the things you've learned together to help you make good food choices.
You may find that it's easier to change your child's habits than your own, and that your child will quickly take your place as the "food police." The benefits of this increased knowledge for your child, your family, and yourself will pay off in better health and fitness for the whole family -- and all this serving calculation doesn't hurt math skills, either.