Worried about your child’s weight? Seek advice from a pediatrician.

Worried about your child’s weight? Seek advice from a pediatrician.

The pediatrician has noticed your child’s weight gain—the same weight gain that has been troubling you. It can make you feel helpless.

As pediatricians, we help families sort out the reasons behind added pounds. It can be a medical condition, activity levels or eating habits. We’ll ask questions. If we don’t find a medical reason, how might a family’s lifestyle be impacting your child’s weight?

Having a discussion with your pediatrician may help uncover opportunities for incorporating healthier choices. After learning more about a family; who lives in the household, who cooks and identifying the top three reasons for weight gain (portion size, snacking, sugar-sweetened beverages, etc.), we can begin education and offer practical ways to problem-solve.

For example, I educate on plant-based eating and how it translates into healthy body growth and function. Teaching around portions for older children can involve a plate with partitions and labels. For younger children, portions are smaller, so we focus on accessibility to snacks between meals and sugar-sweetened beverages. Another simple tip; look at your plate, make sure half of what’s on it is vegetables and fruits and that its as colorful as possible.  Substituting a high-calorie food with something equally delicious, but more nutrient dense, is another way to shift eating patterns. These are good messages for both children and parents.

Helping your child lose weight and eat healthier is not easy. It’s hard for a parent to restrict the foods your children love, even if they are unhealthy. But it’s our job as parents to provide food, and it’s the child’s job to eat. They may complain, but if you provide good food, they’ll eat if they are hungry (note that this doesn’t hold true for restrictive eaters).

While summer may not be the best time for consistently healthy, home-cooked meals, the fresh fruits and vegetables at farmer’s markets are a real plus — so is all the exercise and activity that comes with the season. It’s important to find out what your child enjoys. Remind them of the fun that can come from activity and play. I love the usual kid games of hopscotch, hula hoop, pick-up basketball, bike riding and finding friends in the neighborhood. Experiencing exercise as a family; swimming, hiking, golf or tennis gives children good roles models. Over time exercise hopefully becomes a lifestyle for a lifetime.

I’m especially interested in culinary medicine, a new field of medicine that combines the culinary talents of chefs and the knowledge of physicians and registered dieticians to focus on the health of food.  Food can be viewed as medicine. These experts provide tips on how to feed a family inexpensively and with simple recipes. This medical specialty provides tips on how to feed a family inexpensively with simple recipes that promote health. Nutritious and delicious- now who doesn’t like that?

Now is the perfect time to schedule your child’s annual checkup. Find a primary care doctor in Illinois or Wisconsin

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  1. Not having junk food (chips, candy, and soda pop) in the house on a regular basis helps too. I only purchased unhealthy items for birthday parties and holidays so my kids understood that stuff wasn’t something to eat or drink on a regular basis.
    They are now adults and have their favorite junk food. And yet, they restrict that themselves now. I was so happy to find out that they appreciated my making sure that they ate well and healthily.

  2. What about children that sneak food?

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About the Author

Dr. Lori Walsh
Dr. Lori Walsh

Dr. Lori Walsh is the medical director of pediatric integrative medicine at Advocate Children's Hospital. She practices at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital Center for Health and Integrative Medicine, where she does integrative consults for infants, children and adults