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10 Tips for How to Lose Weight for Kids


Parents are the number-one tool against children being overweight or obese. What can you do to ensure your kids are getting the nutrition they need without scarring them for life in the process? Here are 10 ways to help your family — because this is a family affair! — lose weight. Follow these 10 tips for how to lose weight for kids.

  1.  Choose a food lifestyle that works
    Food, not exercise, is key for weight loss. Certain diets can help lose weight and establish healthy eating patterns. Of course, when I say diet, I just mean the type of food and not a crazy “eat three seeds a day” diet. That’s because we want to stress to kids that eating for health isn’t just something you do to lose pounds on a scale or to look a certain way. It’s all about fueling our bodies and giving them the nourishment they need to perform their best, not jumping on fad diets for short-term gains.

    The Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes fruits, veggies, healthy fats like olive oil, fish, and whole grains, can be a great place to start. Kids are generally familiar with most of these foods, but here they take center stage. The Mediterranean diet also helps guard our bodies against heart disease and other obesity-related health issues like type-2 diabetes and metabolic complications.

    If gluten is an issue with your child, following a gluten-free diet could be the answer. An added bonus of reducing or eliminating gluten in your diet is that it automatically kicks a lot of unhealthy foods to the curb, such as refined carbohydrates like white bread and pasta, white and whole-grain flours, rice, and more.

    However, as people shun gluten more and more, there are gluten-free “junk foods” cropping up. If you fear that you’ll just be replacing one unhealthy food with another, Paleo might be a good option. A Paleo diet focuses on proteins, vegetables, and healthy fats like avocado and coconut oil, while avoiding grains, dairy, refined sugars, and legumes. While it can feel restrictive in the beginning, a lot of the guesswork about “can I eat this?” is taken out.

  2. Say goodbye to processed foods and added sugars
    Most likely, however, your entire family will see health benefits as soon as you cut out — or at least cut back — on processed foods and extra sugar. You should immediately get rid of refined carbohydrates, as these are empty calories with zero nutritional value.

    Next, it’s time to start cutting out those snacks you thought were healthy. Those “low-fat” cookies? They’re full of sugar and other weird ingredients to give them flavor. Flavored yogurts? These are packed with sugar, often more than an actual dessert. Fruit juices? Unless they’re 100-percent juice, they often have additional nasties added in. Premade salad dressings? The ingredients list on some of those is ridiculously long!

    Your best bet is to make your own healthy treats. That way, you’re in control of what’s going into your child’s body.

  3. Cook at home
    This can be a real challenge for busy families. Between work, school, homework, activities, and plain old life, it can feel like there’s just no time to cook, but this is one of the most important things you can do to help your child lose weight. A home-cooked meal means children eat something nutritious in an appropriate serving size.

    Kitchen hacking can help. On the weekend, you can make a few meals at once and serve those throughout the week. Think chili or soup in a crockpot, a roasted chicken in the oven, and a curry on the stove. The soup and curry can be served throughout the week, while the chicken can be added to a salad, used in lettuce wraps, or served alongside oven-baked potatoes.

    Breakfast for dinner is always a hit, too! Oatmeal sweetened with honey and fresh fruit makes a nice dinner, as do pumpkin-blueberry pancakes or eggs scrambled with veggies and served with a slice of whole-wheat toast.

  4. Get moving
    If your child enjoys sports, signing him or her up to play after school is an easy way to get your kid moving. Even better, getting active with them is a great way to encourage physical activity and spend more time together. You can go on walks together, go for a jog, do YouTube yoga practices, or hit the local pool. They’ll see that being active doesn’t just mean gym class or boring “exercises.”

  5. Let kids stop eating when they’re full
    Many of us grew up in a time when we were forced to finish off everything on our plates, whether we were still hungry or not. Even babies turn away from milk when they’ve had enough. Similarly, if your child says he or she is not too hungry or fills up before finishing everything, don’t force him or her to eat more.

  6. Get kids in the kitchen
    Kids are a lot more likely to eat something if they had a hand in making it. Make the kitchen a family-friendly zone. Let your kids wash or chop veggies or do basic cooking tasks like sautéing onions or boiling water. Let them have their say in what recipes the family should eat during the week, and then have them help out.

  7. Serve new foods several times
     It takes quite a few tries for our palates to adapt to new foods. So, when you’re introducing a new ingredient, like kale or quinoa, don’t be discouraged if your child doesn’t like it immediately. Make the new food a part of, not the basis of, the entire meal, and let your child try it out. If he or she doesn’t like it, don’t force him or her to eat it, but continue serving it. Eventually, your kid just might come around.

  8. Don’t demonize foods
    You’re not going to be able to control every single thing your kid eats. There will be visits to friends’ houses, birthday parties, and after-school events, especially as they get older. It’s important not to make any food group out to be the worst thing ever. You don’t want children feeling guilty or like they failed if they have a cookie on occasion. Instead, focus on having them notice how they feel after they eat certain foods and understanding that some foods are for special occasions or eaten sparingly.

  9. Pay attention to portion sizes
    Until they’re at least teenagers, children should be given “kid-sized” portions. Healthy Children has easy-to-follow recommendations on how much of each food group children should be served. Of course, children’s needs will vary based on their activity, sex, etc. Start by serving a smaller portion. If kids are still hungry, they can get a second serving, rather than starting with two servings worth of food.

  10. Make it a family affair
    There’s nothing more embarrassing than having a child eat one meal while everyone else eats something different. So, make losing weight and healthy eating something the entire family is doing for everyone’s wellbeing. Keep tempting foods out of the house. Load the fridge with washed, cut-up pieces of fruit and veggies. Make healthy eating a normal household occurrence, and kids will follow suit!

Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS is a certified doctor of natural medicine, doctor of chiropractic, and clinical nutritionist with a passion to help people get healthy by using food as medicine. For more information, please visit www.draxe.com.