Overweight Children

      Helping  Overweight Children

Weight loss and eating triggers are highly amenable to clinical hypnotherapy. If the child does not have nervous disorders and can relax, therapy should would well with  one to two sessions. It gives him great self confidence when he can be deliberate about his choices and control himself.

Does Your Child Eat for Comfort?

Child psychologist Beth Braun says children often eat to fill the emptiness they feel on the inside. “Many times, overeating is considered an eating disorder. The core of an eating disorder is the need for the child or the adolescent to have control. How will the overweight children take control? Eat more.” She recommends the following to help change a child’s behavior.

Self medicating with food, soothing the upset, depression, loneliness, cheering oneself up, are all emotional unconscious eating patterns that have an established neuro net that triggers automatically, that is a habit that requires no thinking involved to go for the junk food fix. 

Stop the Emotional Disconnect

Food feels good going down, it feels good when it’s inside you, it fills you up, and it doesn’t talk back. If you notice your child eating large quantities of food after school and heading for the computer or TV, sit down next to them and ask, “How was your day?” Don’t let them eat to make themselves feel better. Let them talk to you about their problems.

Staying in touch with your child’s emotions, thinking patterns, information he is receiving from outside the family, and frames of reference is essential. It is all too easy in this age of information and addictions for our children to get off tract and formulate habits and addictions that can be life threatening particularly if they are used to self medicate.

Let your children know they have your unconditional love, that you are not judging them but the inappropriate decision, action, or choice, or behavior.

Tell them early on they can come to you with anything they have done or are thinking of doing and find an understanding caring adult to guide and love them. Don’t let the food, cigarette, sex, or drugs become their best friend instead of you. 

Make the Whole Family Healthy

Your reaction to your child’s weight can be more devastating than the actual pounds.

[I cannot stress this enough parents. Many an overweight adult was labeled by relatives in childhood as fat, ugly, unwanted, unlovable. If you find these words coming out of you mouth, or thoughts about your child being framed up like this, know that it is your issue and yours to correct. If you have a prejudice, bias, or distaste for overweight people it will be projected onto your child and transferred to them. They will see themselves, believe themselves unloved, gross, fat etc. which is a self perpetuating and self fulfilling perspective. We experience and act out what we believe about ourselves and once the child believes it is hopelessly overweight, the potential for them giving up on themselves, never developing better eating habits, accepting any kind of attention from anyone in their need for love which they have been convinced they are unworthy of, is high indeed.

When parents put pressure on children to lose weight, the more often children feel like they’re a failure if they don’t. Children cannot be expected to make changes on their own—the whole family has to change its lifestyle. Don’t single out the overweight child by making one special meal for them—get the whole family to eat healthy!

Find Support

As your child learns to express their emotions, it’s important to find others to talk to about the pain—have them join a group, see a counselor or find other activities to let out their emotions.

Write it Down

Beth Braun says, “Realize that the overeating is really emotional eating. You are not just eating out of hunger. Keep track of how you’re feeling, and learn to deal with your emotions.” Beth does this for herself occasionally—she writes down what she eats in a journal. It’s a good way to become aware of what you are eating.

Melinda Sothern adds, “Not all children eat out of emotion. Some children eat because they are bored.” 

The Food Journal

We must be careful when recommending a food journal to children  that we do not put too much emphasis on it while presenting the idea as one that will simply teach them about conscious eating, i.e. make them more aware of how often they are eating, how many times a week do they feel uncomfortable after eating from being too full, how much, the circumstances that trigger over eating or junk food eating (what happened just before they thought about eating, what were their thoughts just before the binge) unconscious episodes or patterns of eating (watching TV, boredom, etc.)  

General Tips to Help the Overweight Child

Cut down on portion sizes particularly for young children. It teaches them to eat larger portions when placed before them plus is causes them to feel like they are letting Mom down if they can’t eat it all. It also sets up false and unhealthy expectations from themselves. The creation of guilt about not eating everything on their plate or not making a “happy face” will carry throughout their life if the “it’s a crime to throw away food… children are starving” lecture is employed. This is one of the first beliefs and behaviors that has to be deleted when working with the overweight.

Never give or let a child eat out of a box or bag. That just installs unconscious eating patterns since it is impossible to recognize how many chips or cookies you have eaten. It is usually done in front of a TV and is mindless for that reason, the mind is focused on something else not how much we are eating. Dole out a portion appropriate for their age and health and don’t allow for seconds.

When they are begging for seconds, remind them that it takes the mind 20 minutes to signal the stomach is full and doesn’t need or want anymore food. Leave the table after a sufficient amount without stuffing yourself is a good rule to learn. You are not supposed to eat until you are uncomfortable.

Remind them that when they stand up, they will feel how full they are compared to the sitting position which often does not let us know we have overeaten.

Substitute healthy foods for junk food by making them attractive and tasty. If his stomach feels full of healthy foods he won’t have as much room for junk food.

Teach them to be aware and in touch with their body’s signals. The brain has an efficient method of keeping us from overeating with chemical hunger or satisfaction signals to stop them from eating. If a child learns to override those signals, ignore his upset stomach, and discomfort after gorging, he will continue these patterns into adulthood. The body mind organism is an integrated unit with an endless feedback loop of biochemicals. Learning to listen to your body and honor it cannot be learned too early.

Have him read the book or read it to him explaining in simple terms the concepts involved in Dr. Abravanel’s Diet By Body Type relevant to their body type. Once they see it or hear it from an expert with credibility explain how their particular body metabolizes or doesn’t metabolize certain foods, it will stay with them for life. 

Serving Sizes Are Setting Up Our Children

Are we setting up our children for a lifetime of weight problems and unhealthy eating?

Apparently, yes, according to the first study on how serving sizes influence a young child’s food intake.

The study by nutrition professors at Penn State University, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, found that 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds in the university’s Child Development Program ate about the same amount of food when served small, medium and large portions of macaroni and cheese at lunchtime.

However, the older preschoolers ignored their “internal hunger cues” and ate more than necessary, nutrition professor Barbara Rolls says. When given a large (2-cup) portion of macaroni and cheese that exceeded the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommended serving size, the 5- and 6-year-old preschoolers ate more macaroni and cheese and likewise consumed more milk, carrot sticks and applesauce at lunch.

“It’s clear from this study that serving children larger-than-recommended portions encourages them to eat more than is necessary or prudent for their long-term good health,” says Rolls.

Americans have to come to expect “super-sized” food items in stores and restaurants, but larger portions could be a factor in the rising number of children and adults who are overweight, the study says. Some 58 million American adults and 4.7 million children are overweight, according to the National Institutes of Health. Overeating can lead to obesity that can trigger life-threatening illnesses such as diabetes, certain types of cancer and coronary heart disease.

What can you do?

As any parent knows, mealtime can turn into wartime when you try telling your children how much they should be eating. Here are some tips from nutrition experts on how you can make peace and still give your kids healthy food:

• Go family style. Adults and children do better at controlling portion sizes when they serve themselves. Children as young as 3 or 3-and-a-half can serve themselves, Rolls says. The dinner table should not be a battleground. Parents are responsible for bringing in healthy food, and putting it on the table. Then parents need to stop and give children the responsibility for deciding what, how much and even if they will eat,” says licensed nutritionist Frances Berg, editor of the Healthy Weight Journal and author of several books on eating.

• Talk to your children so they can learn from their own bodies how much to eat and to stop eating when they feel full. Berg says too much parental control over how much a child eats can be a factor in causing eating disorders. “We need to help children trust their own bodies,” Berg says.

• There are no bad foods. Instead of forbidding your kids to eat sweets, provide them with nutritious foods first. Stopping kids from snacking just before dinner is wrong if they are munching on healthy foods, says cookbook author Robin Vitetta-Miller.

• Be aware of portion sizes. At home, start with reasonable serving sizes, and keep food for second helpings in the kitchen, not at the dinner table. When you’re eating out, don’t feel like you have to finish everything on your plate, says Rolls. “People need to get out of the habit of having a lot of food for not a lot of money. It’s something that fast-food providers get us to think about,” says Rolls. “It’s really not good value in the long run. It’s better to make a decision to go for smaller portions.”

Previous studies at Penn State have found that adults, like children, also overeat when served large portions, Rolls says. As a parent, you can set a good example for your children by eating a variety of healthy foods in moderate portions, experts say.

If you’re eating because of emotional reasons, such as anxiety, loneliness or depression, try exercising, talking to a friend or doing relaxation techniques, says Rolls in her nutrition book, Volumetrics: Feeling Full on Fewer Calories.

“If you are trying to manage your weight, you need to get more tuned in to what your body is telling you,” Rolls says. “Food, in the long run, is not going to be the solution if you’re bored or stressed.”

Prevention is the best strategy. The Bogalusa study (the pediatric version of the Framingham study) showed that overweight children are likely to become obese adults. Approximately 70 percent of children with BMI above 95th percentile had adult obesity. In contrast, only seven percent of children less than the 50th percentile for weight became obese adults. Adults who were overweight in childhood have higher levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and insulin, with low HDL cholesterol levels and increased prevalence of diabetes mellitus. Cumulative lifetime risk of coronary heart disease based on percentile ranking for each risk factor (less than 50th or greater than 95th percentile) was greatest among those who were persistently overweight from early childhood, although risk factors increased when obesity developed at any age.

Cardiac surgeons have stated that due to the unhealthy fast food and junk food diet of our nation, they are doing open heart surgery on younger and younger people. Whereas traditionally it was the mid sixty’s or older candidate for this surgery, now they are operating on adults in their twenties and thirties. Triglycerides, plaque and cholesterol accumulate in the arteries from the time of birth, a fact that many parents either do not know or decide to ignore. The children of today are the first real generation that is being raised on the fast food and junk food diets in addition to the lifetime accumulation of the poisons our foods are processed with. 

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