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Consult your doctor before starting your child on a diet or strenuous exercise program.

Daily exercise to the point of breathing hard can increase your child's rate of weight loss and sense of physical well-being.

Instructions for your child:
Take advantage of your gym program in school. Spend 10 minutes per day exercising in your room. If possible, walk places instead of riding in a car. Use the stairs instead of elevators. Limit your TV time to 2 hours or less per day. As you lose weight, exercise will be less tiring. Attempt to learn new sports that especially appeal to you. Swimming, bicycling, skiing, and jogging are sports that burn the most calories.

A reasonable diet allows a child to have 3 meals a day and eat average-size portions. There are no forbidden foods; the dieter can have a serving of anything family or friends are eating. However, there are forbidden amounts. While reducing, your child must learn to leave the table a little bit hungry. Shortcuts such as fasting, crash diets, or diet pills rarely work and may be dangerous. Calorie counting is helpful for some children, but usually it just doesn't work for most dieters.

Instructions for your child:

  • Fluids: Take all milk as skim milk. Limit it to 16 oz. per day, as milk has lots of calories. All other fluid intake should be either water, unsweetened tea, or diet drinks. Drink at least 6 glasses of water per day.

  • Meals: Eat average portions. No seconds.

  • Desserts: Eat smaller than average portions. No seconds. Try to eat Jello or fresh fruit more often.

  • Snacks: Eliminate them. If this is impossible, use only the special filler foods listed below and no more than twice a day.

  • Types of food: If you have a choice, eat protein in preference to carbohydrates or fats. Proteins are the best food for depressing the appetite (for example, cheese, meat, eggs).
  • Vitamins: Take 1 multivitamin tablet per day while reducing.

  • Reminders: Put a note up on the refrigerator, bathroom mirror, etc., which says, "EAT LESS."

    Filler foods:
    These special low-calorie foods can be eaten fairly freely. They are especially useful if your child gets an urge to eat a larger quantity of food than usual, as everyone does at times.

  • Diet soft drinks, Kool-Aid, coffee, or tea.
  • Diet Kool-Aid popsicles.
  • Bouillon soup in cold weather.
  • Raw vegetables--some that are particularly good with flavored salts are raw carrot sticks, celery sticks, raw potato sticks, cucumbers, pickles, cauliflower.
  • Raw fruits--these contain more calories than raw vegetables, but some acceptable ones are apples, oranges, cantaloupe, and strawberries.
  • Popcorn--minimal calories if popped in little or no oil. No butter.
  • Desserts--Jello or diet desserts.
  • Sugar-free gum can be useful for lessening the appetite.

    Helpful hints about family eating patterns:

  • The overweight child should be allowed to eat the same foods as the rest of the family. Snacks must be discontinued for the entire family, not just for that child. Rich desserts should be decreased for the whole family. If other people in the family are overweight, they should try to set a good example for the child by restricting their servings of the main course.

  • High-calorie foods that might be eaten as snacks should not be purchased so that the temptation to eat them need not arise (e.g., corn chips, potato chips, regular pop, cookies, cakes, candy).

  • Food should not be kept in any room of the house other than the kitchen.

  • Eating while watching TV should be discontinued for everyone.

  • Diet pop and other filler foods should be kept available in the home.

  • If any diet is being used with a younger child, it must be one that can be tolerated by the child. The parents can encourage the child to stick to it, but they must never use force. Imposed diets can cause lots of problems.
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