Published: 06/18/2015 - Updated: 03/08/2020
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei, PhD
Children that are overweight is becoming increasingly more common. Obesity currently affects more than 10% of the world’s population, regardless of age, sex, socioeconomic status, or education. It is also present in both industrialized countries, or developed countries, as well as poor countries. This is affecting children at an alarming rate.
If your child is overweight, you need to know which foods could make their situation worse, and which could also cause a long list of other diseases, like diabetes, high cholesterol, or cardiac diseases.
Foods to avoid in case of obesity
Sugar and Junk Food
Sugar is one of an obese individual’s main enemies, along with excessive fat, or fatty foods. These are also bad for children that are facing obesity.
This list of foods includes chocolate, caramels, pastries and other sweets, as well as fried foods, like french fried, sauces like mayonnaise, hamburgers, and fast food.
It would be a better idea to replace sugar with stevia, and opt for extra-virgin olive oil.
Sodas, Soft Drinks, Bottled Juices
We should also mention that the majority of children like carbonated beverages (sodas), soft drinks, and bottled juices, which contain a lot of preservatives, as well as excessive amounts of sugar. Remember that one soda contains between 6 and 8 tablespoons of sugar, which is extremely harmful to health.
Anything in excess is bad, and if your child likes to eat pastries, bread and pasta everyday, this will have negative consequences. This will considerably increase their weight, which is why this consumption must be controlled.
Due to their high saturated fat content, this food should be restricted from obese children. It’s best that they eat fish or chicken, or lean meats.
Energy drinks are stimulants used to provide high levels of energy, which comes from carbohydrates. They are used to keep people awake and active, so as to develop abilities in school, sports, long days of studying, or demanding jobs. They are similar in composition to soft drinks, but not only do they contain excessive sugar and carbonated water, but they also contain caffeine, vitamins – in some cases more taurine, inositol and minerals, among other things.
Due to their high levels of carbohydrates, they could cause high glycemia levels in the blood, or it could even lead to diabetes in obese individuals.
You need to be careful when distinguishing between hydrating beverages, because energy drinks do not provide electrolytes nor the necessary sodium to re-hydrate.
They key to achieving positive results in your child’s health, is to make the entire family endeavor this together. You will need to promote eating as a family, making sure everyone eats healthily. It won’t do you any good if you force your child to eat salads and fruit, if their siblings and parents are able to eat fried foods and fatty foods, at the same table.
Eating as a Family
In this regard, you should not force your child to eat what he/she does not want to eat. Rather you should encourage him to follow his family’s example.
It is the parent’s responsibility to teach children that not everything seen on T.V. is good. They need to explain the consequences that come along with a poor diet.
Create Healthy Habits
You need to make juices or drinks with honey for them, starting at childhood. Get your child used to eating things with very little sugar, or using no sugar when it is not necessary. Do not add sugar to fruit or grains, because they already have sugar. This could be the most important rule for your family’s well-being.
If you have an older child and they are already used to eating sugar, then you’ll have to slowly reduce the sugar in their diet. If before, you added two tablespoons of sugar to their smoothie, now you should only add one and a half, then one. If they ask for sugar on their cereal or fruit, slowly add less and less, and start introducing honey slowly. If they are young, you can talk more openly about the terrible consequences that white sugar brings, including obesity. This will make them more responsible and conscious of what they are eating.
Do not lower your child’s self-esteem
It is important to create a sense of love and respect for their body. Whoever is transmitting these teaching needs to be clear and direct, but never severe, punishing, or abusive of the child.
You need to teach them by example, showing them how to care for themselves at home for a healthy, less complicated life.
What children should eat
While your child is developing and growing, they should eat primarily nourishing foods. They should consume:
- Dairy: which provides calcium to strengthen bones and teeth, advisable to drink skim milk to avoid obesity.
- Proteins: these are rich in iron which prevents anemia and provides good amounts of energy. They are found in legumes (lentils, beans and peas), and to a lesser extent in eggs and red and white meat.
- Fruits and vegetables: It’s best to eat different colors of vegetable because they provide different vitamins. They contain high amounts of fiber, vitamins and minerals, which keep children healthy and strengthen their immune and digestive systems.
- Grains: these are also a rich source of fiber. In moderate amounts, they will keep your intestines active.
- Healthy oils and fats: Creating the habit of eating “good” fats will lead to a strong cardiovascular system, which will allow them to grow and learn in the best way possible. These can be found in olive oil, cinnamon and corn.
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