My Child is Overweight and I don’t Know What to Do!

Many of us dealing with our own weight issues are parents of overweight children.  This is doubly painful for those of us who were overweight children ourselves.

Unfortunately, the feelings of guilt we carry can quite often backfire on our attempts to help our kids attain a healthy weight.  We might nag them – which undermines their self esteem.  Or we might over compensate by over feeding them – or a combination of both – which is pretty darn confusing for our kids.

We can also be afraid to intervene because we simply don’t know how.

If you have a child struggling with their weight is a site with medically supervised information and a good place to start educating yourself.  Be sure to work with your child’s pediatrician – it is never wise for us to “put our kids on a diet” without knowing what we’re doing.  Children have different nutritional needs that must be met in order not to place their growth and development at risk.

Childhood obesity is a family issue – you may also want to seek the help of a family therapist.

Helping your child attain a healthy weight and develop life-long “healthy habits” that support your child sustaining a healthy weight throughout their lifetime is both a priceless gift to give – and parental responsibility to meet.



One thought on “My Child is Overweight and I don’t Know What to Do!

  1. I am what’s known as a third culture kid, someone who grew up in more than one country. My mom set very strict dietary limits for me while we were living in the US when I was in kindergarten. I felt like she was being very unfair and ridiculously fussy because all the other children at school got cookies and candy in their lunch boxes and they got to eat sugary breakfast cereal every day. I got sweets of any sort – including breakfast cereal – once a week, on Saturdays. My mom literally counted American breakfast cereal as candy! (Our standby was oatmeal from scratch.) I got nothing other than a main (and surely nutritious knowing my mother) meal in my lunchbox, and after months of nagging, I got sugar-free gum sweetened with a sweetener made from birch sap (xylitol) that our Finnish relatives sent. (Not available in the US at that time, but I’ve seen it very recently.) My mom never took me and my friends out for ice cream like my friends’ moms did. I felt so unfairly treated at the time. BUT – and I had zero appreciation for this at the time – I was skinny and healthy. I was well fed in the truest sense of the word.

    I became overweight and finally borderline obese when I moved back to the US to attend first college, then graduate school, and ate more like Americans eat. Over time I’ve realized that to live here and NOT get fat and/or unhealthy, you have to be some sort of health nut compared to the status quo like my mom was. I can promise you that if you set healthwise appropriate limits for your children, they will protest like I did. They will probably feel that you are being downright cruel sometimes in saying no to junk food and sweets and ice cream and soda and everything else sugary children shouldn’t eat much of but companies try to push. And that’s speaking from a point of view where I’d never personally HAD all that – I’d just seen my American friends get so much more ice cream and breakfast cereal and candy and cookies and soda and cake and pizza. Seeing them have it was enough for me to feel entitled. But now I’m eternally grateful to my mother for not caving to a three-year-old’s whining.

    I enjoy eating healthy foods because they have them home comfort and safety factor for me. Sprouts and whole-grain bread speaks of the safety and warmth of home. When I realized I can’t eat like Americans do and feel good or be healthy, I had something to go BACK to. And it’s blindingly obvious that that made my weight loss journey so much easier than for some of my American friends who were fed completely differently growing up and have been morbidly obese for years. Just having seen how healthy food and cooking works let me CHOOSE that instead of figuring it all out on my own like so many of my American friends are now.

    Just throwing this out there for anyone in this situation to know that your kid is going to protest if you’re doing the right thing for them nutritionally simply because kids like sugar and they’re going to see a lot of sugar they don’t get if you’re setting appropriate limits. And also to validate any feelings you have of that it’s hard to know. In the US, it IS hard to know, so much so that even when you’ve lived differently and been skinny you can’t let yourself be too influenced by how people around you eat… or you’re going to be fat and unhealthy too. Ignore what’s around you. It’s darn hard but you have to. Find friends who are also into health and make that your normal. Do whatever it takes to pretend how most people actually do eat isn’t normal so you don’t get sucked into it.

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