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What are some healthy eating habits for an overweight child?

Ximena Jimenez
Nutrition & Dietetics
First of all, children should not be on a restrictive diet since they are growing and need a variety of nutrients. I always recommend to limit TV or computer use to 2 hours maximun since they only promote inactivity. Make sure to include low fat dairy products, lean meats, lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains in his/her diet.
Marilyn Tanner-Blasiar
Nutrition & Dietetics
Healthy eating is a combination of Balance, Variety, and Moderation of both foods and drinks.  
  • Make sure they are getting healthy foods in: whole grains, low fat milk, fruits, vegetables, low fat proteins -- these are nutrient rich foods. 
  • Cut back on high calorie low nutrient foods and drinks, such as soda, fruit punch, chips, desserts, candy, etc. Note: cut back -- do not restrict.
  • Make sure the child is not skipping meals. They need energy -- a balance of intake over time. If a meal is skipped they may overeat the next opportunity they get due to being over hungry.
  • Enjoy the taste of the food/drink. Make sure they are taking their time eating and tasting not multi-tasking or eating so quickly they don't have time to taste. If eating and watching TV individuals tend to get caught up in the program only to say, "I don't even remember eating that" (think chips or cookies while watching a movie)
  • Try to make the healthy choice MOST of the time. Don't "feel bad" if you have a choclate candy or french fries, but do try to eat healthfully most of the time. 
  • Healthy choices are for the WHOLE family. Everyone will benefit from a healthy diet.
  • Work with a Pediatric Registered Dietitian to help analyze the child's diet, the RD will be able to tailor a healthy eating guidelines to the child. 
  • Move and groove. Walk, dance, swim, anything you LIKE to do to get exercise in. 
  • Weight management is a lifestyle. These are long term behaviors not quick fixes, so be patient. Stopping the weight gain is often half the battle. 
  • For help on finding a pediatric Registered Dietitian visit www.eatright.org. 
Bethany Thayer
Nutrition & Dietetics
An overweight child should never feel as if they are being punished for being overweight. Look for ways to incorporate healthy habits into the families activities. Keep eating to defined times and places. If breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks are always around the same time your child doesn't need to worry about going hungry. Avoid snacking in front of the computer or TV. Make fruits and vegetables visible -- a fruit bowl on the kitchen counter and a veggie tray in the refrigerator at eye-level. Stock your kitchen with other healthy items such as whole-grain breads and cereals, low-fat milk and yogurt, beans and other wholesome foods. Work with your child to find healthy snacks and meals that are tasty. Let them incorporate their own creativity. And help them find ways to stay active inbetween meals and snacks. Looking for a registered dietitian that can customize a plan for you? Visit www.eatright.org.
Kelly Currier
Nutrition & Dietetics
Healthy eating is a lifestyle that should be developed at a young age. It is important to remember that parents or caretakers are usually the biggest role models for their children. They need the example to be set for them in order to form this healthy lifestyle.

This lifestyle should include the following habits:
  • Food is consumed at the table. Everyone should avoid eating in front of the television. This triggers mindless eating and leads to overconsumption of calories. You want there to be few distractions when children are eating. Plus, meal time is a good way to connect with your children and help create a positive environment in your home.
  • Snacks are a great opportunity to get in your fruit and vegetable servings. Snack on low-calorie, nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables. Snack time can be fun and creative. Enjoy nutritious, fun snacks like "ants on a log" which is celery with peanut butter and raisins on top.
  • Drink plenty of water. Kids love sugary beverages, but these discretionary calories contribute to weight gain. You should avoid consuming calories through beverages. The exception is fat-free milk and 100% fruit juice. Stick to one glass of milk or juice at meal time and drink plenty of water in between meals.
Ruth Frechman
Nutrition & Dietetics
If your child is overweight, take action.
  • Be a role model. Eat healthy foods and serve them to your child. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean sources of protein, and fat-free or 1% sources of calcium. Avoid fried foods and limit snacks without nutrients.
  • It would be better to avoid eating away from home as much as possible. For smaller portions, share meals with your child. Don't choose French fries or regular soda. Choose baked or broiled foods. Hold the mayo and cheese on burgers. Use sauces, gravy, butter, or sour cream sparingly. These suggestions will save a lot of calories.
Laura Motosko, MSEd, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics

A balanced diet is important for adequate growth and development, learning, behaving well and a healthy weight to prevent chronic disease. A child should be offered 3 meals per day and frequent snacks of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats such as olive oil, proteins including lean meat, nuts, legumes, beans, soy or dairy and reduced saturated fat, sodium and sugar. Water should be the primary beverage for children. Fruit slices can be added to water for flavor. The child's family, friends and role models should be following the same healthy habits together. It is important in addition to diet to be physically active and reduce television and video or computer viewing to promote a healthy weight. 

Enas Shakkour
Nutrition & Dietetics
Healthy eating recommendations are the same for all children. Children should have three meals and snacks in between meals. They should not skip meals. For breakfast, children should be served whole-grain cereals and breads, milk, and a protein source such as eggs or low-fat cheese. Cereals loaded with sugars are not recommended. Bananas or berries could be used to sweeten cereals. Children over the age of two should drink skim milk with their meals. For lunch and dinner, half the plate should be a variety of vegetables. One quarter of the plate should be a lean meat and the other quarter should be a whole grain such as brown rice or whole-grain pasta. Children should snack on healthy snacks such as fruits.whole-grain snacks, or low-fat cheese sticks. They should drink water and skim milk. Sodas and juices are not recommended. If children have a craving for sweets, a small portioned amount should be given. Children must get their nutrients from whole-grains, lean meats and beans, healthy oils such as canola oil and olive oil, vegetables, and fruits. If children refuse vegetables, try to introduce vegetables in different recipes such as lasagnas, spaghettis, and other dishes.
Alan Greene, MD
Pediatrics
Many overweight children eat far too many empty calories. In this video, pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene reveals the typical sources of those empty calories and how to replace them with healthy ones.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.