Once you have diabetes, you’re on a diet for life. And over time the disease can lead to blindness, limb amputation and kidney damage so severe patients need dialysis. Today’s overweight kids need to be concerned about the same things their parents worry about: things such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. And since children can be cruel to anyone who’s different, they have to worry about that, too. Unfortunately, it hasn’t become politically incorrect to tease fat kids.
So parents are in a tough spot. You’re up against birthday party goody bags, candy racks at the checkout counter, a barrage of ads for chips and junk food.
Say no to the candy bar, and you’re a mean mother. Say yes, and you may be contributing to the hardening of your child’s arteries.
So how do you keep your kids healthy when fast-food joints entice them with toys thrown in free with the cholesterol?
Here are some tricks:
First, cut out soda. It’s a relatively painless way to eliminate hundreds of empty calories.
Try fruit for snacks and dessert. Some kids actually like it.
Make vegetables a part of dinner. A recent shocker was a study finding that the only vegetable many 2-year-olds ate regularly was French fries.
Put a bowl of kid-friendly veggies such as cherry tomatoes and baby carrots on the table before dinner is ready, when the kids are already hungry.
And add some fun. Serve veggies with a healthy dip. Stick toothpicks in cubes of low-fat cheese or seedless grapes.
And be persistent: It can take 10 tastings before kids actually develop a taste for something new. (At least, that’s what the experts say.) And don’t make hard and fast rules. Forbidding food just makes it more desirable.
“Offer more lean protein like chicken and fish” and cut down on carbohydrates, especially processed ones like white bread and rice, says Dr. Andrew Packard, author of “The Packard Weight Health Plan”
What if they don’t like the new food? “When they’re hungry, they’ll eat,” Dr. Packard says. “Just say, ‘This is what we’re having for dinner, guys. There isn’t [another] dinner at 9 o’clock.’ Their bodies will get the calories they need.”
It’s also important to keep kids active. Walk to school, instead of driving. Let them run around outside. Set weekend time aside for biking or skating together.