Woes of Child Weight Management
It is no secret that child weight management is increasingly a concern in the United States.
With so many children, adolescents, and teens in need of a healthy balance in their lives, it is important to encourage healthy lifestyle choices at home.
As Christians, we are expected to treasure our temples (I Corinthians 6:19-20). This is often easier said than done. We live in a world where we jam-pack 48 hours worth of work, relational matters, and other duties into 24 hours.
We read about all of the health risks involved with being overweight and obese. But the risks for overweight and obese children are even more severe than for adults.
I have battled with my weight since the age of 8. I was in the third grade when I learned that I could walk to the store alone and secretly make purchases.
Unfortunately, I purchased candy, gum, and snack cakes as a means of coping with a stressful home environment.
By the age of 5, both of my parents were born-again Christians. But as we know, Christianity isn’t instantaneously transformative and in some cases we get in our own way and deter God from completing His work in us.
Two Approaches to Adolescent Weight Loss
As my weight increased, one of my parents purchased herbal pills, diet drinks, bland breadsticks and other tortuous weight loss food programs for me – all prior to the age of 12. This parent was more dominant and legalistic, so I complied even though I was reluctant about this method.
This approach led to:
- Ingesting unhealthy chemicals,
- Additional weight gain,
- Developing an obsession with immediate gratification (fad diets should work quick, right?),
- Developing a low self-esteem,
Feelings of defeat (when the fad diets didn’t work),
and feelings of worthlessness (when I was blamed for the ineffectiveness of this method of weight loss),
- A jaded perspective of how to maintain a healthy lifestyle,
- And other negative outcomes, like being socially stigmatized.
My other parent suggested that I become more active, eat less junk food, and adopt a positive perspective through prayer. This parent encouraged me to be consistent with workouts and allow God to help me deal with addictive urges.
This second approach is the one that I have been applying to my adult life, and it has allowed me to adopt a fresh line of reasoning when caring for my body.
Here, I’d like to suggest how child weight management can be approached as believers of Christ.
About the Weight Loss Tips for Christian Parents
Before getting to the list, I’d like to offer that the most important first step is to offer this issue to the Lord.
Often times we invite others’ perspectives into our lives, seeking insight and direction, when as believers we have a direct connection to the infinite wisdom of God.
With that in mind, the list below is from the perspective of a woman who was faced with mixed reactions to weight gain.
The list contains some statements that I wanted to make to my family when I was younger. Also included are reflective thoughts that I would write to my 12 year old self from my present point of view.
All of these ideas guide my present weight maintenance journey.
8 Proven Child Weight Loss Tips
for Christian Parents
- Live by example!
Habits are learned over time and reinforced by environment. Weight loss is more fun and far less stressful when it is done as a family unit. Even if other family members aren’t overweight, a healthy lifestyle benefits adults and children of all shapes and sizes.
- Let her know that God loves her in spite of her size.
Each of us was created for a reason. Help your child to identify with her divine purpose and not her clothing size.
- Encourage her to love herself as God designed her.
Again, when your young one accepts herself and appreciates God’s handy work, she can focus on far grander matters than weight.
- Openly speak about the human body and how God wants us to care for it.
Each body that walks this earth is unique in its own way.
- Engage her in physical activity.
Go for walks with your child. Play basketball or bike ride together as a family. Move as a unit and become a healthier unit!
Team sports help to increase self esteem, responsibility, awareness, and respect for others.
- Put healthy food in her temple!
Model healthy eating. Children watch the eating habits of their parents and other adults around them. They imitate what they see; those actions are reinforced, and a habit is formed. If your child observes you caring for your body, that observation will be reflected in her actions.
- Introduce her child to the idea of discernment.
Practicing discernment exercises the muscle of sound decision making. To learn to respond to Spirit’s nudges early on will prove to be of great benefit as she grows and develops.
- Encourage her to be consistent.
This is a lifestyle choice. She may not see results right away, but what matters is how her body is treated over the course of time, not just for the present moment.
3 Essential Ways to Keep Your Child Involved
(Without making her feel guilty or shameful)
- Ask Her How She Feels
Do so patiently. Have her talk about the way she feels when she eats well and exercises versus the way she feels when she is sedentary and filled with unhealthy food.
- Ask Her How She is Functioning
Casually ask her how she is doing in school. Is she more alert? Has her memory improved?
- Allow Her to Get Creative
Have her create artwork, music, poetry, anything that uses her gifts and talents to express how she feels about adopting this new lifestyle. It will indirectly reinforce her own reasoning for taking care of herself.
By following these 3 Essential Steps and the 8 Proven Weight Loss Tips, your child will acquire new evidence about her lifestyle without being badgered or made to feel that weight loss is an obligation.
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