It's The Kids' Fault!
As much as we adore our kiddos, they are often a major contributing factor in weight gain over the years. From more hours spent in the kitchen to increased challenges finding time for exercise, our little ones can make weight loss much harder than it used to be.
Since this predicament is so universal for parents, we wanted to provide you some simple yet highly effective strategies to mitigate kid-influenced weight gain, and some great ideas to get moving and bond with your children this summer.
5 Reasons Your Kids Cause Weight Gain, And What To Do About It
Unfortunately, many standard “kid-friendly foods” are far from healthy. From goldfish to Lunchables and everything in between, it’s a pretty bleak nutritional scenario. The worst part is that your kids are in their formative years of building a healthy baseline, and these foods aren't doing either of you any favors.
The best way to avoid this is to make a pact with yourself that you simply won’t give into high-sugar, highly processed kids foods, period. Don’t have them around the house, and instead find healthier options. Plain yogurt with honey, whole grain crackers with cheese sticks, fresh and dried fruits are all healthy options that kids tend to like and won't wreak havoc on your waist-line (or their health).
The Picky Eater
Hands down one of the biggest challenges, as parents we are inclined to buy just about anything to get our picky eater to eat! This could mean falling back on some of the foods mentioned above, or having night after night of pasta and pizza, both high-carb foods that can mean weight gain for parents.
Keep experimenting with different, simple yet healthy dishes until you find a few your kids will accept. This might take 20 times of introducing the same food with no success, but eventually a few healthier options will stick. If pizza is a standby, for example, buy a whole wheat crust and pair it with a smoothie that has some fresh fruit and even a veggie hiding inside.
Kids are notorious for leaving a plate half-full of food, and especially for the grazers out there, this can be hugely challenging as parents. If you continuously eat your kids’ leftovers, this means you will be exponentially increasing your portion sizes.
Instead, get into the habit of immediately tossing or saving leftovers in the fridge instead of letting them tempt you on the table. Make the rule that once your kids leave the table, that meal is over. No more food until the next meal or snack is served.
Sometimes your kids just love your biggest trigger foods. Maybe it’s peanut butter you lose control with, or any other of your child’s go-to’s. If this is the case, try to find options that meet your child’s expectations but aren’t quite as tempting for you. For example, if peanut butter is the culprit, buy a natural brand with no added sugars and go for creamy if you love chunky. It's a win-win because your kiddo will reap more nutritional benefits and you won’t be as inclined to eat it by the spoonful.
If you happen to keep sweets in the house at your kid’s request (and can’t break the habit just yet), always have a Sweet Defeat on hand to stop a sugar craving in its’ tracks. I like to keep one on the kitchen counter and in my purse for emergencies.
Endless Hours in the Kitchen
Whether it’s packing school lunches, cooking kid-friendly meal options, preparing classroom snacks or all of the above, as a parent you usually spend far more time in the kitchen as you used to. This can lead to all-day picking, tasting and trying, and the calories add up fast.
If you can share these responsibilities with a spouse or partner, that can help. Once you finish school lunches, put them in the fridge so they are out of sight, out of mind. Find meals that you can cook for the entire family instead of making different things for different people, as this will minimize the amount of time in the kitchen.
How To Get Moving With Your Kids
Another great way to avoid the weight gain that feels unavoidable sometimes as a parent is to get outside and get moving! It serves a double purpose, as you’ll all be getting exercise and won’t be tempted to hang around in the kitchen.
Here are 10 fun and easy ways to get moving with the whole family:
- Implement a mandatory after-dinner walk, whether you have a dog or not. You might get some dragging heels at first, but once it becomes routine, this is a fun and effective way to have daily activity be part of your routine.
- Buy a frisbee and head to the nearest (or not the nearest) park.
- Depending on your children’s favorite sport(s), agree to buy them a special piece of equipment that you shop for together, related to that sport (soccer ball, basketball, baseball mitt, etcetera). Do this with the understanding that it will be used twice per week together with the family.
- Plant a garden together as a family. Not only is this excellent physical activity, but your kids will learn all sorts of valuable lessons that only come from mother nature.
- Find your local skating rink (ice or regular), and check it out. Rent skates there and truly put your balance to the test. At the very least, this option is sure to have everyone laughing.
- When you plan family vacations, make them active. This could be hiking, camping or somewhere with access to water and swimming.
- Instead of meeting other parents for coffee with their kiddos, meet and take a walk.
- Create a “picnic Sunday” tradition. Pack up a healthy lunch, head to the park, and bring games along that will get you all moving.
- Go bowling.
- Try a bit of healthy competition by challenging your kids to a game of basketball, soccer, volleyball, a race, etc. The idea of playing against and (perhaps) beating you will likely get them motivated. You can even turn it into a longer-term tournament and decide on a prize for the winner.
Last but certainly not least, know that your example of healthy eating and physical activity makes a huge impact on your kids current and future health. If you have daughters, be sure you are modeling self-love and acceptance, as the constant diet-talk or self-critique can have huge ramifications.
All of this can definitely be more work sometimes, but the payoff is monumental for everyone involved.