It’s happening! My girls are growing up and like many moms, it’s happening faster than I would like.
My oldest will be a 5th grader next year. It’s a tricky time for young girls who are just growing into their bodies. For many girls this is when the struggle for self-confidence begins as kids want to fit in. Unfortunately, it’s also the time eating disorders can start.
As I was preparing to write this blog, I thought I’d do a little research to support my theory. I thought a statistic might be helpful to show just how big of a problem this really is. Oh my gosh, the statistics are staggering! One after another made my heart sink. According to the Eating Disorder Foundation…
- One half of 4th grade girls are on a diet.
- 81% of ten-year-old girls are afraid of being fat.
- A study found that adolescent girls were more fearful of gaining weight than getting cancer, nuclear war or losing their parents.
- 52% of girls begin dieting before age 14
It makes me sad to think of girls judging their bodies and falling into bad habits so young. I can completely relate because I know what that’s like. I was the same way, thinking that simply being skinny meant I was healthy. I used to see nothing wrong with following diets. Wow, what was I thinking? We need to create a mental shift for our kids. It’s time to stop the cycle of yo-yo dieting and misinformed health choices that we adults have spent years trying to get out of. There are several ways parents can help reverse the increase in childhood obesity and help their children lose weight safely.
First, be a good role model for your kids. They are watching what we eat.
Limit TV time to encourage outside/more physical play.
Watch your words. What we tell our children can stay with them long after we forget we said it. I came across an interview with Dr. David Ludwig, a researcher for Boston’s Children’s Hospital. He says a typical mistake parents make is to say,”’You can’t have your dessert until you eat your vegetables.’ Maybe that will work a few times. But what you’re doing is making dessert a reward and vegetables a punishment. Instead, say, “First we eat our vegetables, and then we eat dessert.” It’s a subtle but important difference. You’re just showing your child the proper order of things without placing relative value on either food.” Yes, brilliant!
The worst thing you can tell a child who wants to lose weight is to count calories.
While adults might use calorie counting as a weight loss tool, it’s not a healthy nor sustainable way to live. For kids and teens it can be downright dangerous.
My concern with calorie counting isn’t just for kids. It’s for adults too. The problem is that it ignores the nutritional value of the food, which is absolutely critical for healthy development. I always say that 150 calories from a twinkie is completely different for the body than consuming 150 calories from almonds.
I have finally found an app that can help kids take control of their own health in a safe way!!
Kurbo offers free and subscription-based mobile weight loss and health coaching for kids and teens. It is a digital adaptation of the Stanford Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital pediatric obesity program.
It combines a food and activity tracker with personalized coaching via text and weekly phone calls or video chats.
Kurbo follows the Traffic Light approach categorizing foods under red, yellow and green.
According to Kurbo, 90 percent of kids lose weight or reduce their BMI within three months! In a Kurbo pilot study, these kids also reported higher levels of happiness and self-confidence. The best part is parents said they are fighting less with their kids about food, and are less stressed. That’s a win-win for everyone.
A TV news station recently asked me about the app. You can see what I had to say in this short video. You’ll also hear what the app’s creator has to say.
Teaching children how to build a healthy foundation for eating can take time. Stay calm and keep trying!
For more information, visit www.kurbo.com.