School is starting again and families are facing changing schedules. With so much transition, excitement and stress going on it can be hard to make healthy choices for you and your family. Most families can’t even bring themselves to talk about healthy choices! 

In a survey conducted by WebMD and Sanford, parents said they would rather talk to their kids about drugs and sex than about healthy choices and healthy weight in particular. 20% of parents believe it’s the doctor’s job to talk to their kids about healthy weight.

And what do the doctors say about this? 90% of doctors agree that healthy weight is the most important topic for parents to discuss with their children. They rated it as more important that sex or drugs.

Healthy weight is a very complicated topic. Should the only time our kids have a chance to talk and learn about healthy weight really be at a yearly doctor’s visit? This is something that is becoming a very serious problem on our country right now. A third of our children are overweight; 17% are obese, and the numbers are growing. Parents need to stop being embarrassed to talk about weight.

Embarrassment isn’t the only reason parents aren’t talking. Most parents don’t think that they should have to talk to their kids about weight if their children are at a normal weight. But then what happens if your child does become overweight as he gets older? You never talked to him about healthy choices. You didn’t give him the knowledge he needed. And once that child is overweight, most parents are even more scared to start the conversation for fear they could trigger an eating disorder or self-image problem.

Experts say that the conversation about healthy weight should be started at a very young age. It should not be difficult to talk about and it should be a normal part of everyday life. Experts say to use positive words, remind children that change happens slowly, focus on good choices and work together as a family team.

That sounds nice, but how do you actually incorporate the conversation into everyday life? Here are some ideas from the Washington Post:

  • Have food rules.
    As parents, you are the family food policy makers. You are not being mean to your children by not allowing them to eat fast food or let them drink soda in the house; you are helping them. Here are some examples of food rules:
    No eating in front of the TV and no eating anywhere but the dining room or kitchen. Not only does this cut down on messes potentially, but it also cuts down on mindless eating and eating when you aren’t really hungry.
    No purchasing soda, sugared cereals or packaged sweets for the home. If you don’t bring junk into your home, you can’t eat it. By only offering healthy choices you are teaching your kids what a healthy food is.
    One dessert a day.  This doesn’t just mean ice cream and cake, this means chips, french fries, etc, as well. Having this rules makes it okay to eat these kinds of foods, they aren’t off limits, but your children will be able to grasp the concept of moderation.
  • Demonstrate the importance of physical activity.
    You must model this. Engage in some sort of physical activity on a regular basis. If there is something you can do as a family on a regular basis, even better!
    Encourage your kids to find a sport they enjoy.

“Fighting the childhood obesity epidemic: are ‘food rules’ the solution?” Janice D’Arcy. Washington Post.
“Parents, Kids, Doctors Balk at Talk About Weight” Daniel J. DeNoon. WebMD Health News.