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#1 of 42 Old 06-05-2010, 01:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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How can I help my ds9 achieve a healthy body size. He is average height for 9 years old, but weighs over 100 lbs. He isn't into sports but plays outside with his friends almost daily. They ride bikes and chase each other with water guns so his play is somewhat active, though his weight is starting to get in the way of his movement. He swims a lot, takes swimming lessons and trampoline class. We also are active as a family, going on lots of hikes and walks, bike rides etc. I have never had weight issues, but dh has since childhood.

His main issue is that he overeats. I don't keep junk food in the house most of the time, so what he has to choose from is quality stuff, but he won't eat fruits or veggies at all. He eats a lot of meat and bread, potatoes and pasta. I don't serve pasta often. He says he's hungry often when he couldn't possibly be, like right after eating a meal. He only became overweight in the past two years since we've been unschooling. His dad makes issues over his picky eating sometimes, which annoys him, as it would me. He also drinks a lot of calories, so we often times will take breaks from buying juices and milk (the only other beverages we usually have besides water). But the rest of us really like using milk in cereal or juices in smoothies and the other two dks and me don't have weight issues so we invariably begin buying them again.

I am at a loss as to what else I could be doing to help ds. I am very concerned for his health since he's started having headaches when he eats carbs without protein. I wish he wouldn't snack all the time, I know it isn't necessary and is harmful. I've tried discussing it with him without being judgemental, but he just wants to eat whenever he wants. He is starting to get concerned too about his health, but for some reason, he isn't strong willed enough to stop snacking.

Any ideas of how I could help him?
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#2 of 42 Old 06-05-2010, 01:34 PM
 
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Get him nuts to snack on to help with the sugar cravings that are sending him to the juice again and again? Make sure there's cold water in the fridge in front of the juice and milk for thirst? I'd even consider getting on of those stand alone water coolers and putting a stack of cups right by it so that it's more work to get juice when thirsty.

Make sure he's getting protein and fat at breakfast.
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#3 of 42 Old 06-05-2010, 01:58 PM
 
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When he says he's hungry after eating a big meal ask him what that feels like. We've been working with ds to understand the difference between actual hunger and boredom or a desire to chew. We are encouraging him to learn to recognize the physical cues for hunger and satiation and to base his eating on those things.

I myself am recovering from an eating disorder so I'm especially sensitive and often worried about such things. A book that has helped me tremendously is Normal Eating and it has a section on kids. I don't wholeheartedly agree with everything the author suggests but have found it to be a valuable tool.
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#4 of 42 Old 06-05-2010, 02:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I really like your ideas about getting a water cooler and putting the juice and milk a bit out of reach or behind stuff in the fridge. Come to think of it, it's been a couple of years since our last water cooler broke. Unfortunately, he won't go near nuts. He's a very picky eater.

Thanks for your input.
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#5 of 42 Old 06-05-2010, 02:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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this is interesting. It never occured to me that one could have a desire to chew. And I know that boredom is a big part of it, he has always been a kid that needs constant stimulation. I've tried asking him to recognize that what he's feeling isn't hunger, but he gets annoyed and defensive. Like he just want his food and my chatter is getting in the way. Ironically, if a friend comes to the door to play, he instantly forgets his "hunger".
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#6 of 42 Old 06-05-2010, 02:57 PM
 
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this is interesting. It never occured to me that one could have a desire to chew. And I know that boredom is a big part of it, he has always been a kid that needs constant stimulation. I've tried asking him to recognize that what he's feeling isn't hunger, but he gets annoyed and defensive. Like he just want his food and my chatter is getting in the way. Ironically, if a friend comes to the door to play, he instantly forgets his "hunger".
Perhaps instead of telling him he isn't hungry ask him what his hunger feels like. Normal eating is about recognizing your bodies cues not when and how much other people tell you should eat. It has to be framed as encouraging and inquisitive, not judgemental or shaming. I know if someone says to me 'You're not hungry, you just ate,' my first instinct is to think, how the heck do they know if I'm hungry?

And if he's truly bored try finding ways to fill that void. Help him come up with a list of activities he enjoys that he can do on his own when he's bored. Let him know that you are available when his friends aren't. Although I will say that eating from boredom is a form of emotional eating and could indicate that he needs more tools in his toolbox to deal with emotional discomfort so he doesn't feel the need to numb that discomfort with food.

I don't really know if any of this applies to your ds or your situation. I'm simply speaking from my own experience as well as what has helped my ds.
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#7 of 42 Old 06-05-2010, 03:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your input. I really like these ideas. When I ask him what his hunger feels like, instead of trying to feel it, he just tells me what he thinks hunger feels like. And it's true that his emotional tool box is lacking, emotions seems to be a subject that doesn't come easily to him, even when I give him the words. It's like he doesn't hear me when we talk about emotions, his eyes gloss over, it's always been this way. But I'll give your suggestions a try.
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#8 of 42 Old 06-05-2010, 05:07 PM
 
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Contact weight watchers and ask if they can help a 9 year old. Their program is all about eating healthy foods in appropriate portions. If you eat according to the program you should not feel hungry.

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#9 of 42 Old 06-05-2010, 05:17 PM
 
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I'm sorry but I think putting a nine year old on a diet is the WORST thing you could do. It would set him up for a lifetime of not trusting his body and feeling that an outside source is better equipped to tell him what, when and how much to eat. Getting to the root of the problem will take longer but will have longer lasting benefits than a diet IMHO.
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#10 of 42 Old 06-05-2010, 06:37 PM
 
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I am at a loss as to what else I could be doing to help ds. I am very concerned for his health since he's started having headaches when he eats carbs without protein.
This is a major red flag for a blood sugar issue. Have you discussed this with a pediatrician? If he has an endocrine issue, it may need medication.
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#11 of 42 Old 06-05-2010, 06:43 PM
 
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I'm sorry but I think putting a nine year old on a diet is the WORST thing you could do. It would set him up for a lifetime of not trusting his body and feeling that an outside source is better equipped to tell him what, when and how much to eat. Getting to the root of the problem will take longer but will have longer lasting benefits than a diet IMHO.
I agree with this whole heartedly, as a former chubby kid. My mom put me on diets as a child, and I'm now obese. I really thing there's a connection there.
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#12 of 42 Old 06-05-2010, 06:48 PM
 
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Moved to the Childhood Years.

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#13 of 42 Old 06-05-2010, 08:32 PM
 
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I think if you can take a walk every morning with him that would help or sign him up for another active class. I think limiting food for kids can make food a battle and that is not what you want. Adding an activity will help him burn any excess calories and it is great for him anyways.
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#14 of 42 Old 06-05-2010, 09:44 PM
 
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Maybe give him sugarfree gum to chew right after meals. I chew gum a lot and for some reason sometimes when I am a little hungry chewing gum supresses that. Is he truly overweight though or is he starting to bulk up for puberty? I don't know how boys do things when they go through puberty, but when I went through I put on weight that wouldn't be normal for a child but was perfectly normal for a person at the stage of puberty I was in. By the time I was a teenager you wouldn't have been able to tell that I had gained that weight earlier than the other girls. If the weight isn't coming off with all the exercise and he is constantly hungry it may be his body is preparing for puberty.
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#15 of 42 Old 06-06-2010, 02:50 AM
 
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I agree with this whole heartedly, as a former chubby kid. My mom put me on diets as a child, and I'm now obese. I really thing there's a connection there.
Ditto all that for me, and in an eating disorder as a young adult. Find the trigger and deal with the root of the problem. It won't be easy, but it beats the alternative.

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#16 of 42 Old 06-06-2010, 04:18 AM
 
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A couple of suggestions:

Sugar free gum after meals is a good one. He can chew, and get a little 'sweet' at the same time.

Make sure that he gets enough to drink. I often snack too much when I'm thirsty. Especially as summer is coming, getting enough WATER to drink is crucial.

Protein. Protein. Protein. as someone who craves carbs, especially simple carbs, I can tell you that getting enough protein is crucial to my being able to regulate carbs. If you can switch to whole grain carbs, even better.

Make a family rule that you have to wait 20 minutes after meals before eating something. It takes that long for your brain and stomach to get 'in sync'.

I would have a schedule. I know that probably goes against unschooling, but it might help him focus on other things when he's bored. It doesn't have to be strict, but you can say 'and what are you supposed to be doing now'?

Make sure the whole family gets 60 minutes of exercise a day. Go for a walk after dinner. Add 2 or 3 other things.

Get smaller plates. The urge to fill up a plate is hard to resist. My 9 year old still eats off of 'kid' plates. It's actually not because I'm worried about him being overweight (the opposite actually - he's 4'9" and 70 lbs. dripping wet). It's just that I find we waste less food when we serve from smaller plates and bowls. They can always have seconds.

Can you limit everyone to 4-6 oz of juice every day? I've resorted to buying juice boxes for dd even though I hate the extra packaging. She can't self-regulate juice. She's not overweight, but she's in the 90th percentile for height and 95th for weight (her pattern all her life) and we need to make sure that she's primed to succeed.

Whatever rules you change, make sure you change them for the whole family. You don't want him to lose weight, but you do want his rate of gain to slow down enough so that his height can catch up a little bit. 2-3" of height will make his weight much more proportionate.

Finally, Weight Watchers has a good book for families:
Weight Watchers Family Power. One of the main things they say is: Rules apply to everyone in the family. You're not putting him on a diet, the whole family is focusing on making healthy choices, moving more, watching TV less and limiting (but not eliminating) treats.

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#17 of 42 Old 06-06-2010, 11:17 AM
 
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I would have him checked out for diabetes, just to be on the safe side there were a couple of things you mentioned that rang bells.

My mother also was convinced that i was overweight as a child and I now have issues that finally I am getting over at almost 40 but it's taken a long time to sort out for myself, dieting is not a good idea if overweight or not. I have to fight hard not to project the same thought smy mother had about me on my own kids - it's amazing how these things can continue through generations. Anyway i hope that all is well for your son and that you manage to work it out for him.

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#18 of 42 Old 06-06-2010, 01:07 PM
 
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There are a few things I do with my ds who is just a little overweight. I differentiate between "mouth hungry" and "stomach hungry." Is his mouth craving something or is his stomach feeling hungry? But I don't deny him food either way. I feel like my ds always had trouble realizing when he was getting hungry. He'd realize he was too hungry and be desperate for a high carb quick fix. I would give him what he asked for but follow up with something more substantial. I know he sometimes tells me he is "mouth hungry" because he wants something sweet and doesn't want me offering to make him something more filling. But it's all about guiding him to recognize his body's cues. So even if he is eating because he is bored, it's progress if he realizes it.

I try to even the playing field so ds CAN follow his body's cues by avoiding high fructose corn syrup (I swear that stuff makes him want to eat and eat and eat. Same with MSG).

I talk about low glycemic foods, things that don't spike the blood sugar causing a crash and hunger later. You can google a list. It's pretty enlightening that some foods generally considered to be healthful are worse than eating sugar by the spoonful. I mention portion sizes, just the occasional comment or reading aloud from the ice cream carton that a portion is 1/2 a cup.

My ds totally forgets about food when he is playing with friends. I do try to get him to take a break and eat something because he does fall apart afterward. After several days with a lot on interaction, like when cousins visit, he'll eat and eat so I try to keep him from getting too much in a deficit.

I try to help ds get as much sleep as he needs. He eats more when he is tired. There are other links between not getting enough sleep and being overweight besides simply overeating, something to do with a hormone that is released while sleeping. Even though we are RU and don't have a bedtime, I will suggest we get to bed if he hasn't and I think he is tired. He knows I won't read to him if he wants to stay up too late and he enjoys bedtime.

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#19 of 42 Old 06-06-2010, 01:16 PM
 
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One idea about the juice, my ds likes it when I freeze a mug of it. He scrapes it out with a spoon. It takes time and might be more satisfying because unfrozen juice can be chugged so quickly. My ds isn't huge on drinking juice and doesn't like milk but he does like unfiltered apple juice, occasionally. I'll offer him a frozen cup in the evening if he is asking for something and I don't think he is actually hungry. It keeps his hands and mouth busy until we get to bed and it satisfies his craving for something sweet.

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#20 of 42 Old 06-06-2010, 02:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is in response to the poster(s) who have mentioned dieting and weight watchers.

I've never been on a diet in my life and as I said before have never had weight issues, however, I've been watching my mom diet as far back as I can remember and she's never satisfied with her weight and thinks about food too much, imo, and I don't want that for my ds. I've been uber sensitive, I've never told my ds he's overweight, but he comes to me and complains that he's fat. I give him tons of encouragement, tell him that if he is active and eats healthy foods then he'll likely grow tall and be more satisfied with the way he looks. He does not think that I think there is anything wrong with him.

My goal is to have him learn to listen to his own cues and know the difference between real hunger, satiaity (sp?), and boredom, lonliness or whatever. He doesn't "get" emotions the way his sisters do, maybe it's something to do with the modeling he sees with males in his life, idk.
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#21 of 42 Old 06-06-2010, 02:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is a major red flag for a blood sugar issue. Have you discussed this with a pediatrician? If he has an endocrine issue, it may need medication.

You think? I have that same symptom at times when I've overdone it with sweets, but I've been tested for diabetes a few times and I don't have it. He doesn't have any other symptoms, like excessive urinating or excessive thirst so I don't know.
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#22 of 42 Old 06-06-2010, 02:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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There are a few things I do with my ds who is just a little overweight. I differentiate between "mouth hungry" and "stomach hungry." Is his mouth craving something or is his stomach feeling hungry? But I don't deny him food either way. I feel like my ds always had trouble realizing when he was getting hungry. He'd realize he was too hungry and be desperate for a high carb quick fix. I would give him what he asked for but follow up with something more substantial. I know he sometimes tells me he is "mouth hungry" because he wants something sweet and doesn't want me offering to make him something more filling. But it's all about guiding him to recognize his body's cues. So even if he is eating because he is bored, it's progress if he realizes it.

I try to even the playing field so ds CAN follow his body's cues by avoiding high fructose corn syrup (I swear that stuff makes him want to eat and eat and eat. Same with MSG).

I talk about low glycemic foods, things that don't spike the blood sugar causing a crash and hunger later. You can google a list. It's pretty enlightening that some foods generally considered to be healthful are worse than eating sugar by the spoonful. I mention portion sizes, just the occasional comment or reading aloud from the ice cream carton that a portion is 1/2 a cup.

My ds totally forgets about food when he is playing with friends. I do try to get him to take a break and eat something because he does fall apart afterward. After several days with a lot on interaction, like when cousins visit, he'll eat and eat so I try to keep him from getting too much in a deficit.

I try to help ds get as much sleep as he needs. He eats more when he is tired. There are other links between not getting enough sleep and being overweight besides simply overeating, something to do with a hormone that is released while sleeping. Even though we are RU and don't have a bedtime, I will suggest we get to bed if he hasn't and I think he is tired. He knows I won't read to him if he wants to stay up too late and he enjoys bedtime.
Wow, thank you so much for responding, this sounds like exactly the kinds of things that could work for ds. He really wants to be healthy and can be a pretty reasonable guy, so I think that a lot of this could work.
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#23 of 42 Old 06-06-2010, 02:24 PM
 
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Sorry if I gave you the impression that I was more concerned about dieting it was just what happened to me as a child - I apologise, as for expressing emotions have you read Liberated Parents Liberated Children and How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk Faber Mazlish, I found both books very helpful in getting my kids to express their emotions and how to validate them (although sometimes they are a little too good at it - lol) - although you sound as if you have a good handle on it, there is also Confident Children by Gael Lindenfeld, there may be something lying a little deeper that you may have to get to the bottom of - your ds may not even know it himself but you sound like a very dedicated, caring and loving mother and I'm sure that things will work themselves out.

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#24 of 42 Old 06-06-2010, 02:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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One idea about the juice, my ds likes it when I freeze a mug of it. He scrapes it out with a spoon. It takes time and might be more satisfying because unfrozen juice can be chugged so quickly. My ds isn't huge on drinking juice and doesn't like milk but he does like unfiltered apple juice, occasionally. I'll offer him a frozen cup in the evening if he is asking for something and I don't think he is actually hungry. It keeps his hands and mouth busy until we get to bed and it satisfies his craving for something sweet.
I think ds will really like this idea. It sounds like it'll do the trick of making drinking a more conscious thing for him instead of gulping it down without pause. (yeah, his table manners could use some work too.)
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#25 of 42 Old 06-06-2010, 02:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Someone mentioned whole grain. It's really all he's ever known since he was a baby other than the occasional pastry or restaurant dinner roll. What we offer to him is good stuff, but variety has always been an issue with this kid, he has major texture issues. To please his dad, he attempts to try veggies or fruits but invariably gags on them. My other kids eat tons of fruits and veg, nuts and seeds, smoothies, soy, etc, etc, He's just has a very finicky palette, I guess.
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#26 of 42 Old 06-06-2010, 03:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry if I gave you the impression that I was more concerned about dieting it was just what happened to me as a child - I apologise, as for expressing emotions have you read Liberated Parents Liberated Children and How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk Faber Mazlish, I found both books very helpful in getting my kids to express their emotions and how to validate them (although sometimes they are a little too good at it - lol) - although you sound as if you have a good handle on it, there is also Confident Children by Gael Lindenfeld, there may be something lying a little deeper that you may have to get to the bottom of - your ds may not even know it himself but you sound like a very dedicated, caring and loving mother and I'm sure that things will work themselves out.
I can totally appreciate that you don't have any way to know who the person asking the question is and whether or not they are looking for a quick fix or how much they really try to address the underlying issues. Such is life in an internet forum. No worries.

I really do appreciate all suggestions, even those I ultimately don't choose because it's always helpful in determining where I stand AND where I don't.
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#27 of 42 Old 06-06-2010, 03:48 PM
 
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My 9 yo is "snacky" when she is bored and anxious. We've broken the snack habit by giving her ice to slowly eat when feeling that way. She loves it crushed (eaten with a spoon) or cubes (lets them melt slowly in her mouth, or chews smaller pieces). She can have as much as she wants, of course.

We also do a lot to tackle bored and anxious, since those are her overeating triggers.
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#28 of 42 Old 06-06-2010, 04:11 PM
 
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Some good advice here. I agree with the suggestion to focus on protein. Also, you may want to make sure he's getting enough healthy fats because too little fat and protein can make a person feel like they aren't full after a meal. If his diet is very limited in avoiding fruits and veggies a good multivitamin might be a good idea to make sure his body is able to make good use of the food it takes in.

One thing that was helpful with our child was to talk about how people differ in how long it takes for their stomach to get the signal that it is full. His stomach may take longer. If he ate what looks like a full meal it would be a good idea to give his stomach a rest of 15 minutes or half an hour to settle. If he still is hungry at that point he can take another look at it, but more than likely he will have moved on.
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#29 of 42 Old 06-06-2010, 08:26 PM
 
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I want to thank you for posting this. we have been dealing with my overweight dd who is 9 also. We just tried the chewing gum after dinner thing. We also talk about being hungry vs. being bored. Does your son read/watch TV/something else distracting while he eats? You may want to cut that out if possible or make him aware that he may eat more when he is eating while distracted. My dd eats when she is bored or she gets into habits, like having to eat an hour after breakfast. I had to make rules about that. We also homeschool so the food is there moreso than school kids and ours is not usually junk food.

In regards to activity, my dd isn't very active either, but I found she enjoys swimming and surprisingly enjoyed playing basketball this winter. She also tried an aikido class with the Girl Scouts and really liked it. She is also doing the 100 push-ups/200 sit-ups/200 squats program with me. It's only our first week, so I'm not sure how far it will go, but it's something.

It's still a work in progress for us, but I do express my concerns to her on when she eats when I know she's not hungry and also when I feel like she is not doing enough activity to keep herself healthy. For us, it's all about being healthy and balance.

I would love to hear what works for you and your son. we could use more ideas here too.
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#30 of 42 Old 06-06-2010, 09:16 PM
 
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I've struggled with my weight almost all my life - over eating and not getting enough real exercise. Not just play but real exercise. I'm terrified of passing down food issues to my kids so I'm very careful never to talk to my kids about dieting, they never know if I'm trying to loose weight, I never talk to my kids about my weight or body etc...... But, I do think we have to be honest with our kids.

Weight is a health issue with long term, serious ramifications. I would talk to my kids about anything I felt may impact their health.

I had melanoma last year so you bet I talk to my kids about sunscreen, never allowing their skin to burn, covering up etc....

My dad and my husband's mom both have diabetes and it comes from lifestyle issues. So, I think it's critical to talk to kids about health issues - especially those that may run in families. If your husband has always struggled with his weight then, it's possible some of this is genetic and it needs to be discussed with your son. Not in a judgemental way but, in a loving "I'm concerned" way.

Have you talked to your DS about it? What does he think?

My kids are super interested in healthy foods. They love to know what foods nourish their bodies, make them strong etc... They love to talk about vitamins and minerals and protein and fiber etc....

Do you have discussions about health? Not about weight but, about health?

I would also talk to your DS about what maintaining a healthy weight means for his quality of life. I do talk about this with my kids. Not in a "you need to be thin to look good" sort of a way but, in an overall health way. We don't talk about fat bodies but, we talk about what happens to our bodies when we eat too much - how our bodies are made to burn off the calories we eat and when we eat too much - even of healthy foods - and we don't burn that off as energy, you body stores it.

We talk about how much our bodies really need. We talk about what eating unhealthy does to our bodies etc.... the focus is on health - not on appearance.

We also seriously limit video games, tv etc... and try to go for family walks every night after dinner.

If he's not into sports, how about other activities like roller blading / skating? Skateboarding? Bike racing? Martial arts?

Also, on the drinking most of his calories, if it's not there, he can't drink it. From a very young age, we only drank water in our family. We have the very, very occasional glass of juice if I've bought it on super duper sale - like maybe a couple times a year. But really, my kids know that juice is nothing but sugar - all the good stuff in fruit has been stripped away and the juice is left. They hate that! So, they'd much prefer to just eat the fruit.

Milk is the same way. I buy it for cooking or mixing into some oatmeal but, they don't sit down and have a glass of milk.

I think as parents we have to model healthy eating - we have to live it. We have to provide healthy foods in the home. So for us, healthy eating is tons of fruits, veggies, proteins and healthy fats with the occasional whole grain bread, tortilla or pasta but, carbs are not the main staple in our diet.

Honestly, I'd get your DS involved in figuring out serving sizes, making healthy food choices, making choices for exercise etc.... but, get his thoughts on the problem and get him invested in the solution.
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