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Ask a Dietitian: My Child is Gaining Weight Quickly
by Nichole Hudon MS, RD/LD
Q: I have been concerned that my child is gaining weight too quickly but do not want to push her into a diet or make her feel bad about herself. We have a lot of diabetics in our family and do not want her to become diabetic too. Are there any resources that might help?
A: That is a very valid concern and thank you for being aware that making your child be on a diet could have negative psychological effects if it is not approached properly. There has been a growing trend of adult-type diabetes developing in children and adolescents so being mindful of this and proactive about prevention is essential. Knowing that there is a family history of diabetes now makes this an entire family issue, not just your daughter's. The best thing you can do for your daughter is become a partner in fitness and a healthy lifestyle with her. There are several good resources and one of my favorites is www.choosemyplate.gov which has a special section entitle "MyPlateKid'sPlace" which is an interactive website with games, quizzes, activity pages and more. There is even a classroom program that you can share with your child's teacher if that is part of their curriculum.
Several important things to do for your child include:
- Make activity a family priority. It does not have to mean running laps with a stop watch! Go for a walk and incorporate little bursts of exercises like a short sprint, jumping jacks, squats and be sure to do them too. Jumping ropes are portable and fun to take along. This is also a good time to get to visit about her day and to talk about other good habits.
- Have healthy snacks available. Sliced veggies with hummus or low fat dip, fruit with yogurt dip, lean deli meat, boiled eggs, unsalted nuts, yogurt, string cheese are all good things to keep around.
- Teach her by setting a good example. Build healthy meals and as she grows up, this will just be what is normal for her. Make half the plate veggies and fruit, try to incorporate as many different colors available for a variety of nutrients (especially foods rich in folic acid). Change the starches to whole-gran options (whole wheat pasta, brown rice, whole wheat pitas, etc). Use smaller plates to help with portion control. Encourage time between second helpings and dessert. At the store, let her pick out a new fruit or vegetable to try; and a recipe that includes that item and help her prepare it.
- Only keep good drink choices on hand. Discourage sodas and high-calorie sports drinks.
- Most importantly, let her know she is not alone and encourage everyone in the household to make healthy living a lifestyle.
For nutritional counseling, Norman Regional Health System offers the guidance of registered dietitians. Those interested can schedule an appointment for an assessment with a referral from their family physician.
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