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My overweight son feels punished when I cut back on snacks
Q: My 7-year-old son weighs 78 pounds. His doctor is concerned, and so am I. I’ve started cutting back on his food and snacks, but he feels he’s being punished. What can I do to help him understand I’m doing it for his health? Do you have any tips on helping him lose weight?
A: If every parent were as concerned as you, Ann, maybe we could stop this child obesity trend before if gets any worse.

Adult weight-loss diets are choices that we make, and we are mentally prepared for the cutbacks, but children don’t usually make these decisions by themselves. Many, like your son, feel they are being punished, as if it’s their fault they’re overweight.

Remember, one of the problems with obesity is the amount of food being consumed, not necessarily the food itself. To help your son:

  • Learn to read food labels so that you understand what a portion size actually is. You may be surprised! Instead of removing any of his foods, start by cutting the portion size instead. This eliminates the “punishment” of losing favourite foods.


  • Have you son get involved in planning his meals and look at labels together. Let him make some of the decisions for his meals, such as his school lunch. Also, send him with a bagged lunch instead of letting him buy lunch every day, and don’t send him with extra money to buy snacks. You can control his intake if you know what he’s eating.


  • Don’t overcook! We usually make too much food for our families. Again, learn what serving sizes actually are and cook accordingly. Don’t offer seconds unless it is a vegetable or fresh fruit.


  • Use smaller plates. A luncheon-sized plate for a 7-year-old is sufficient to hold the food that he needs to eat and looks fuller than if he were using a standard dinner plate. His eyes won’t detect that he’s eating less.


  • Control what snacks are available in the house. If you don’t have it, he can’t eat it. Keep fruit, cut- up raw vegetables, light microwave popcorn (avoid the butter) or pudding made with skim milk. Remove all soda pop except for very special occasions.


  • Probably the most important aspect in keeping kids trim is getting them to exercise. Go for a family walk after dinner to help burn off those calories. You’ll find the whole family starts to look fitter.