7 Ways to Help Your Overweight Child Lose Weight Safely

Photo credit: Public Domain

If you’re trying to help your overweight child lose weight safely, begin by making gradual lifestyle changes and avoid the popular fad diets. Changes to diet and lifestyle will take time and patience, so take it one step at a time and get the whole family involved in making healthier choices.  Also, you should first talk to your child’s physician or see a nutritionist to obtain guidance or goals on a target weight.

Here is a quick list of 7 healthy suggestions to help your family conquer obesity:

  1. Be a healthy role model. Children will generally pay closer attention to your actions rather than your words, so the very best thing you can do is set a good example by practicing healthy lifestyle habits yourself. Your health and weight directly affect your child’s health and weight. In fact, according to Stanford News, if both parents are overweight the risk of becoming an overweight adult jumps to nearly 50 percent. You can set your kids up for success by lining your refrigerator and pantry with plenty of quick and easy healthy snacks, such as whole wheat crackers with low-fat cheese; apple wedges with yogurt; high-fiber granola bars with oats, nuts & seeds; carrots and celery with peanut butter and raisins.
  1. Keep it positive. No one enjoys receiving negative feedback. Talk to your child with compassion and encouragement. Avoid saying negative phrases like ‘you need to lose weight’. Instead, say ‘Let’s be healthy and start taking care of our bodies’. Focus on the foods you can eat, not the foods you should be limiting or cutting out. Avoid saying, ‘don’t eat that.’ Instead, use positive language by saying something like ‘Let’s go pick out fruits and make a fruit salad, and then we can go for a family bike ride.’ This way you are making healthy eating and exercise something that is fun to do.
  1. Make healthy eating a family affair. Try to schedule at least one meal a day that is unhurried and involves the whole family. Don’t make a special ‘diet’ meal for the person who is overweight. Everyone in the family can benefit from eating healthy meals, regardless of weight, and a family that eats together, eats better, according to a recent study in the journal Archives of Family Medicine. Children who report having regular family dinners have healthier diets than their peers who don’t, the study showed.
  1. Eat a well-balanced breakfast. A healthy breakfast should include a carbohydrate, a protein and a little fat, which will keep your children more alert during school. Carbs provide immediate energy, whereas protein and fat help you feel fuller, longer. So, instead of choosing sugary cereals and pastries, have a bowl of high-fiber oatmeal with blueberries & almonds (or almond milk), or whip up some scrambled eggs with a slice of whole-wheat toast. If you’re really running late, grab a yogurt or a bagel with peanut butter or low fat cream cheese. Do not skip breakfast. Studies have shown that weight loss is much more difficult in people who skip breakfast.
  1. Make time for physical activity. Make physical activity a family event. Every night after dinner in the summer, go for a half-hour walk or bike ride, and make it an activity that kids look forward to. If you can afford it, enroll your kids in their favorite dancing or sporting activity. Make exercise fun, not a chore or something they HAVE to do. If your kids are young, they may enjoy hide-and-seek or hopscotch. Kick a soccer ball or play some football with older children.
  1. Watch your portions.  When serving the food, try to portion out meals on dishes and avoid buffet-type or family-style eating. Resist the first temptation to have seconds, then check in with yourself to see if you are really hungry. ChooseMyPlate.gov is a great resource for learning more about portion control for kids.
  1. Don’t say diet. If you put your child on any diet, you might be setting them up for an eating disorder – whether binge eating or closet eating or another type of disorder. Instead, focus on forming healthy lifestyle habits that will eventually result in long-term weight loss and better overall health.

 

 

Add More Whole Foods to Your Diet

Photo credit: Public Domain via Wikimedia CommonsThe phrase “whole foods” refers to foods that are raw, unprocessed or as close to nature as possible. Whole foods include whole grains, whole raw fruits and vegetables, and unprocessed chicken and meats. It is easier to improve your diet by replacing processed foods with natural, whole foods than you might think. Whole foods are generally lower in calories and carbohydrates than highly processed foods such as frozen dinners and fast food. Switching from processed to whole foods means meal preparation will take a little more planning, but your health and your waist line will thank you.

Add more whole foods to your regular diet by replacing highly processed white flour with whole grains. Instead of white bread, choose whole wheat, oat and bran breads. Opt for fresh or frozen whole fruits and vegetables instead of canned. The canning process includes cooking and adding preservatives. Many canned fruits and vegetables have added sugar or sodium. The canning process also removes beneficial phytochemicals and nutrients that your body needs for good health. Buy fresh or frozen as opposed to canned vegetables and fruits, so that you can enjoy all the benefits of eating vegetables.

Pass by the convenience foods, such as frozen macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, fish sticks, and frozen meatloaf in the freezer section. These foods are usually high in calories, carbohydrates and are loaded with sodium and preservatives. Fresh, skinless chicken breasts baked or grilled with whole wheat rolls, fresh vegetables or a salad makes an excellent whole food dinner. Forget the instant mashed potatoes that are loaded with preservatives and other chemicals. Choosing long grain and wild rice as a side dish is another way to add whole foods to your diet.

Beans, rice and legumes can replace high-calorie side dishes, such as macaroni and cheese and instant mashed potatoes. As for potatoes, they are an excellent whole food. If you don’t have time to peel, cook and whip your own potatoes, a baked (sweet) potato is just as delicious and takes less preparation time. Top your baked potato with low-fat sour cream and some fresh chopped green onions for delicious side dish. Many supermarkets offer fresh fish and other seafood. Select local fish or fish that is flown in daily. Fresh fish can be a little more expensive than the fish in the freezer, but one taste of fresh grilled perch or shrimp will convince you it’s worth the price. A salad with a mixture of lettuces, spinach, radishes, carrots, bell peppers and tomatoes is the perfect way to start any whole foods meal.

Many of the preservatives we consume come from snack foods and sodas. Rather than potato chips and snack crackers, satisfy your snack urge with fresh sliced apples, bananas, grapes and berries. You can also enjoy raisins, nuts and other dried fruits. Keep some banana and apple chips in your desk for a quick, naturally sweet snack. Blend up a berry smoothie with fresh berries, ice and 100 percent fruit juice for a refreshing whole foods treat. Keep a bowl of fresh apples, oranges, and bananas on the counter for a healthy, quick after work or after school snack. Tea, especially green tea, is a refreshing alternative to sugary soda. Toss the cold breakfast cereals and fill your pantry with whole grain cereals instead. Whole oats, wheat germ and quinoa are healthy, whole food breakfast choices. Add fresh fruit for extra flavor and nutrients. Avoid using processed sugar. Sweeten your morning oats with honey or natural maple syrup.

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Getting and Staying Motivated to Lose Weight

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The first step to losing weight is to make the decision to do so, and then take it to the next level by changing your lifestyle in such a way as to promote weight loss and keep it off. It may seem as if you put on weight easily, but find it nearly impossible to take it off. Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight takes time and hard work. There is no easy, quick fix out there to help you magically lose weight and make the fat disappear. You have to take charge of your own health and well-being by changing your lifestyle, which primarily entails eating healthier foods, getting more exercise and staying motivated about all the positive changes you’re making for yourself. Don’t lose sight of your goals if you find yourself at a weight-loss plateau and not moving forward as expected. Keep your focus, be consistent and take it one step at a time. Soon you will be where you want to be and achieve permanent, lasting weight loss.

Look through old family photo albums. Remember how thin you were? It may not be possible to get back down to that size 4 you wore in high school, but you can lose weight. Do you have a high school or college reunion coming up? Looking at those old photos may be just the motivation you need to convince you to get off the sofa and hit the gym.

Do some virtual shopping and select your dream outfit, but in a size that you want to be. Bookmark the page or print out the page and hang it on your closet door to remind you to stay motivated to lose weight. Set small goals, such as losing 1 pound each week or exercising 3 days a week. Reward yourself when you achieve each small goal. Keep in mind the ultimate reward, that new outfit! When you do lose weight and can fit into that outfit, buy it! Treat yourself when you reach each milestone in your weight-loss journey. Small rewards for successful steps toward your ultimate goal can help keep you motivated.

We all know how to make a list of things we don’t like about ourselves or a list of things we haven’t yet achieved. Motivate yourself to keep exercising, eating right and losing weight by making a list of positive aspects of your life. You have friends and family who support you. You walked 15 minutes today. You rode your bike for 3 miles. You refused pizza and ate a healthy dinner instead. You lost 1 pound last week. Positive affirmations can help keep you motivated to do the hard work necessary to lose weight.

Many people are motivated by visual stimuli, which is why television commercials are successful, especially those for food. Take a self-portrait or have a family member take a photo of you, and then stop using your full length mirror for 90 days. Stop looking at yourself in the mirror if seeing yourself causes you to have negative thoughts or reinforces a negative self-image. Continue to exercise and track your weight-loss. After three months, take another self-portrait or have a family member take a photo. Place the photos side-by-side and look at the difference. If you have stuck with your program of exercise and diet, you should see a striking difference between the two photos. Seeing how much weight you’ve lost is sure to motivate you to keep going.

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Top 5 Cancer-Fighting Superfoods

Photo credit: Renee Rendler-Kaplan CC-BY-1.0

Being diagnosed with any cancer can be a frightening experience, and just hearing the “C” word can be terrifying enough. According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated one-third of cancer deaths can be linked to a poor diet and inactivity. Genetic and environmental factors also play a role. However, the good news is that you can fight disease and live longer by making healthier food choices, including a variety of superfoods, and getting more exercise.

Spirulina

Spirulina is a blue-green algae superfood that is abundant in vitamins, minerals, protein and carotenoids, antioxidants that can help protect cells from damage. It contains nutrients, including beta-carotene, B complex vitamins, manganese, zinc, vitamin E, selenium, iron, copper and gamma linolenic acid (an essential fatty acid).  In A Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies, Mark Stengler ND, writes “spirulina stimulates natural killer cells and similar anti-immune components of the immune system that can help fight cancer cells. Laboratory studies also show that spirulina polysaccharides can work to repair genetic material that has been damaged from toxins or from radiation.”

Chlorella
 

Chlorella is another nutrient-dense superfood that offers a powerful punch against cancer. In Prescription for Dietary Wellness, Phyllis A. Balch explains, “Chlorella…contains the highest chlorophyll level per ounce of any plant, as well as protein (nearly 58 percent), carbohydrates, all of the B vitamins, vitamins C and E, amino acids (including all nine essential ones), enzymes and rare trace minerals.” In Treating Cancer with Herbs, Michael Tierra, writes “due to its dense and nutrient-rich nature, chlorella offers your body a two-fold attack against cancer. You can access these benefits by taking only one or two teaspoons of chlorella once or twice daily.”

Mushrooms

Several types of mushrooms, such as Maitake, Shiitake and Reishi, help to stengthen the immune system and may help the body in its fight against cancer. Compounds in the mushrooms called polysaccharides can assist in building immunity. Lectin, which is a protein, may also fight cancer cells by preventing them from multiplying.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage may provide protection against certain cancers including colon, bladder and breast cancers. Cruciferous vegetables contain cancer-fighting phytochemicals called isothiocyanates, which stimulate our bodies to break down potential carcinogens. Sulforaphane, found in broccoli and in broccoli sprouts, is a well-known isothiocyanate, which stimulates the body to produce enzymes that detoxify carcinogens. Also, according to researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, many cruciferous vegetables contain indole-3-carbinol, a compound that affects sex-hormone metabolism involved with the progression of prostate, breast and ovarian cancers. Men between 40 and 64 who ate three or more half-cup servings of cruciferous vegetables a week were 41 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer.

Berries

Fresh, organic berries such as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are abundant in nutrients and antioxidants which may slow or prevent the development of cancer. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, all berries are abundant in a phytochemical called ellagic acid, which has shown the ability to prevent cancers of the breast, skin, lung, bladder and esophagus. Ellagic acid also acts as an antioxidant, helping the body to neutralize specific carcinogens and slow the reproduction of cancer cells.

 

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6 Ways to Lose Weight Quickly

Photo Credit: Michael L. Baird CC-BY-2.0

There are healthy and unhealthy ways to losing weight quickly. Relying on quick fixes like appetite suppressants, liquid diets, herbal formulas and weight loss supplements will not produce long-term healthy weight loss. Although these methods might help a little, the best approach is make some big changes to your exercise and eating habits. As you begin your healthy weight loss journey, it’s imperative that you stay focused, consistent, motivated and disciplined to reap the best weight loss results.

Lose weight quickly by first eliminating foods that are high in sodium, fat and sugar, such as white flour products, deep fried foods, processed meats, fast foods, candy, chips, commercial baked goods and high-fat dairy products. Instead, select foods that are abundant in nutrients like lean meats, vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts, fruits, seeds and beans.

Reduce your total caloric intake and increase your activity level to lose weight fast. To lose one pound of body fat, you need to cut 3,500 calories per week through diet and exercise. For example, you could burn 250 calories through exercise and then cut 250 calories from your diet per day. The key is to reduce your daily intake by 500 calories to lose one pound per week. Safe weight loss is one to two pounds per week. Losing more than that is not healthy because more than likely you’re losing muscle and/or water weight. And if you lose weight too quickly by not consuming enough calories, it can cause your body to go into starvation mode, causing your metabolism to slow down and store more fat.

Avoid high calorie, sugar-laden beverages, such as sweetened tea, sodas, flavored coffee drinks, milk shakes, and fruit juices. Liquid calories can add up fast and can easily sabotage your weight loss efforts. Instead, drink water and other healthy beverages like green tea or vegetable juice.

Eat more often to burn extra calories throughout the day. Every two to three hours during the day, eat a small, well-balanced meal. Combine a healthy balance of complex carbs and protein, and make sure you eat breakfast every morning. For example, a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries is an ideal way to start your day. Add soy milk, walnuts and yogurt for an extra dose of balanced nutrition.

Boost your metabolism and burn more calories all day long by building lean muscle. You will burn calories even while you’re at rest because muscle is metabolically active tissue. Weightlifting workout routines that target all of your major muscle groups will help you to build muscle. For example, you can do chest presses, back rows, shoulder presses, bicep curls, triceps dips, squats, hamstring curls and calf raises. Start with one set of 12 to 15 repetitions, two to three non-consecutive days a week.

Lastly, do some calorie-blasting cardio interval training to really ramp up your weight loss efforts. The harder you push yourself, the more calories you will burn. First, do a 5-10 minute warm up and then begin your workout. Here’s an example of a 20 minute cardio interval routine on a bike: 1 minute of pedaling as fast as possible, and then 2 minutes of slow, recovery pedaling. Continue this pattern for a complete 20-minute workout routine. Finish by cooling down for 5-10 minutes. Do your cardio routine 3 non-consecutive days a week. For example, you can do your cardio on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and your weight training on Tuesday and Thursday. Choose a form of exercise that you enjoy such as cycling, walking, running, swimming, stair stepping, jumping rope or elliptical training.

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Heart Healthy Foods

Photo Credit: Jeff Kubina CC-BY-SA-2 2005

With all the hype about “heart healthy” foods, it can be tough to know whether your diet is good for your heart.  Obvious foods to avoid or to consume in moderation include alcohol, caffeine, sodium and sugar. According to the American Heart Association, less than 1% of adults, and virtually no children, meet the ideal diet guidelines. About 68% of adults in the USA are either overweight or obese. Some simple changes to your diet can help maintain or improve your heart health.

Reduce the saturated fat in your diet by switching from butter and other saturated fats to extra virgin olive oil for cooking. Extra virgin olive oil has a light flavor that won’t overwhelm your recipes and it’s rich in antioxidants. Replacing butter and other fats in your diet can help reduce your cholesterol. Use extra virgin olive oil to stir-fry vegetables or add herbs and pour over salads or brush on whole grain breads.

Sweet potatoes are a good choice to replace white potatoes. White potatoes can cause a quick spike in blood sugar, but sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index. They are rich in fiber, vitamin A and lycopene which helps maintain heart health. Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet so you don’t have to add sugar. You can enhance their flavor by adding cinnamon, which is also good for your heart.

Barley is a flavorful whole grain that you can use in place of white rice. Add barley to soup, stews or simmer with herbs and serve as a side dish. Barley can help lower your cholesterol, too.  Oats in any form can help improve your heart health by reducing your cholesterol. Oats are digested slowly which keeps you feeling full for hours and stabilizes your blood sugar. Replace 30% of white flour in recipes with oats or oat flour when you bake muffins, cookies, or make pancakes.

Fruits and berries are a delicious way to reduce processed sugar in your diet while increasing fiber and antioxidants. Blueberries contain lutein, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium and loads of fiber. Cherries, raspberries and blackberries also contain these heart healthy nutrients. Add fresh fruit to low-fat yogurt, pancakes, muffins and salads.

Red meat is rich in protein but contains fats that, over time, can increase your cholesterol. Replace two red meat meals each week with fish. Fish, especially salmon, contain omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for a healthy heart. Salmon is delicious when baked with herbs and served with steamed or stir-fried vegetables.

Leave the salt in the pantry and cook with fresh or dried herbs. Herbs not only add rich flavor to food, they also contain powerful antioxidants to help reduce cell damage. Herbs should be part of your diet to help reduce heart disease, fight high cholesterol and reduce your risk of diabetes.

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Calorie Deficit + Cardio + Strength Training = Weight-Loss

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If you’re like most of us, you would like to lose a few pounds. You’ve tried everything but you just can’t seem to drop those last 10 pounds, right? There is no magic pill and it’s not a big mystery why you can’t drop those last 10 pounds. Most people need to create a calorie deficit — burn more than you eat. Many fad diets are based on calorie restriction by limiting the types and amounts of food you eat. Dieting can help you lose weight initially, but in the long-run you will probably regain most of that weight-loss. Deprivation doesn’t last long and you will not be very happy if you have to continually deprive yourself of foods you love. The key to lasting weight-loss is to burn more calories than you consume and build muscle mass to increase your resting metabolism.

It’s pretty easy to gain one pound of fat but you have to burn 3,500 calories to lose it. You can lose 1 pound of fat each week by creating a calorie deficit of minus 500 calories each day. Your resting, or basal, metabolism is the amount of calories you burn just being alive. Lungs breathing, heart pumping blood, brain thinking, abdominal and spinal muscles holding your body upright, all burn calories. Your basil metabolism accounts for up to 75 percent of the calories you burn every day. Increasing your muscle mass by doing strength training exercises can increase your basal metabolic rate, so that you burn more calories when at rest. Muscle tissue also burns many more calories than other tissues in your body. Gain 1 pound of muscle and burn an extra 50 calories per day while resting. Gain 10 pounds of muscle and you will burn an extra 500 calories per day doing nothing at all.

For fast and lasting weight-loss, combine strength training with cardio. Do strength training 2 days each week and cardio 3 days each week. A typical week might be Monday, Wednesday and Friday doing cardio, and Tuesday and Thursday doing strength training. Cardio is any exercise that elevates your heart rate and makes you sweat. Running, jogging, bicycling, swimming and sports activities are good ways to get a cardio workout to burn fat. Strength training includes not only lifting weights and working out on cable and weight machines at the gym, but also includes bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups, crunches and planks.