Should I reduce her food intake?
Don’t decrease your child’s food portions drastically in order to facilitate weight loss. Instead, make healthier choices for her meals. “For instance, reduce intake of foods high in saturated and trans fats, such as potato chips and fries. Opt for foods with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats instead, such as peanut butter and salmon,” advises Rebecca Goh, education specialist at Kinderland.
Also ensure that your child is eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. Says YY: “If she dislikes veggies, try presenting them to her in creative ways by cutting them up in different shapes and sizes.” You can also whip up tasty, kid-friendly dishes, such as veggie-patty burgers and kale chips, to get her to eat her greens.
Choose wholegrain foods over refined grains – for instance, brown rice over white rice, and wholegrain bread over white bread. “Wholegrain foods contain more vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fibre. It’s a good idea to introduce these foods to young children, as they can then get accustomed to the taste and texture,” says YY.
When it comes to protein, Bibi advises removing all visible fat and skin from meat, and avoiding high-fat and high-sodium options like chicken wings, sausages and chicken nuggets. Limit the amount of sugar by making snacks like chocolates, ice cream and sodas an occasional treat. “Sugar adds extra calories to your child’s diet, with little nutritional value,” cautions YY. Rebecca recommends stocking healthy snack alternatives at home, such as fresh fruit, yogurt and oatcakes.
What sports activities can she do to lose weight?
“Children often enjoy physical activity more if it’s a team sport or a game,” notes Bibi. Make sports a part of your family’s weekend activities whenever possible – aerobic activities such as cycling, in-line skating and badminton can be done as a family. “Encourage your child to take up an extracurricular activity that involves exercise, such as martial arts or dance,” adds YY.
Being physically active does not always have to involve sports. “Your child can incorporate physical activity into her daily routine by using the stairs instead of the lift or escalator, or by helping out with household chores, such as sweeping and mopping. You can also encourage your child to get off one bus stop earlier – if it’s safe – and walk on her way to and from school,” shares YY.
What about sleep – does that play a part?
Definitely. “Sleep deprivation can cause your child to experience increased cravings for energy-dense, high-carbohydrate foods. This might lead to overeating and weight gain,” observes YY.
Rebecca notes: “Children who don’t get enough rest are usually more lethargic, and have less motivation to participate in physical activities.”