“Seventy-five percent of the time, this can be genetic,” his pediatrician explained. Because while my husband and I are pretty slender, we also easily gain weight when we don’t watch what we eat. Still, I had to dig deep and see how my toddler had jumped from 73% BMI to 85% in a matter of six months and came up with a few not-so-surprising reasons why he gained weight—and what we plan to do about it.
He wasn’t too active
Now that I’m pretty much a sloth around the house what with being pregnant with twins, I don’t get a chance to run around and play with my preschooler all that much. Not only that, but I would actually lay down on the couch and snuggle with him on most days—good for bonding, but not so good for keeping a child active. According to his pediatrician, kids his age shouldn’t remain inactive for longer than an hour at a time, sleeping aside.
We’ve been baking
I’ve gotten less strict with what my son could eat, and this included sweets and treats. For instance, this month, we had been baking every week. Since it’s October, I baked pumpkin treats like cookies, pumpkin bread and cheesecake, eating them throughout the week. I imagine this hasn’t done much with containing his weight.
I’ve been trying to gain weight
Since I’m carrying twins, I’m trying to gain a massive amount of weight, considering that I gained a measly two pounds my first trimester (thanks, morning sickness). I now have to play catch up and have been cooking high-calorie, rich food for our meals. I’ve been preparing more elaborate meals, so that breakfast isn’t merely oatmeal, but oatmeal with toast, orange juice and a fruit. And I’m often snacking throughout the day. All this eating means that my son has inadvertently been eating my high-calorie, extravagant meals and snacking alongside me.
How to rein in the overeating
Now that we know what we have up against us, my husband and I plan to make smart choices, including:
Watch portion sizes
My kid can be a bottomless pit, and as such, hardly turns food down. So it’s easy for me to offer him the same portion sizes an adult would eat without any indication that he’s probably eating too much. Instead, we have to be mindful that perhaps he shouldn’t eat a whole serving of yogurt or fill his plate with the same amount of fish that’s on mine. Now I aim to give him about half of what I would eat.
One of the best ways to promote his sense of fullness is to allow him the opportunity to feed himself. 90% of the time we’re pretty good with this, but we’re now more mindful about letting him eat at his own pace and pick up his own utensils.
Only offer food when he’s actually hungry
In addition to following this rule myself, I’ve also given other people the heads up not to constantly offer him food when he’s not even asking for any. He’s the type of person who isn’t going to turn food down, which may seem delightful for others who like sharing food with him, but potentially detrimental to his weight. I’ll have to revert back to being a hawk over what he eats and make sure that others get the A-ok from me first before offering him any food.
Serve healthier choices
We’ll definitely be lessening our baking activities to special occasions—no more once a week baking. Similarly, no more pregnancy diets with elaborate meals and rich, high-calorie foods. Should I need to snack, his pediatrician recommended I do so in private so that he doesn’t succumb to social eating.
Be more active
I’ll do my best to play ball or at least encourage him to be active, even if I have to be slow or immobile. And my husband will do a lot more running, walking and throwing the ball around the house, leaving the slower-paced activities for me.
Most importantly, don’t make an issue out of it
I’m not one to ignore a doctor’s diagnosis, but I also realize the negative effects of parental stress on kids. If we stress about his weight too much, he may feel like he has done something wrong or shameful or develop poor self-esteem because of the heightened importance around his eating.
Instead, we’ll be smart about it: do what needs to be done, and enjoy our son. We don’t want to make an issue out of it that he has a negative view of eating. In fact, we don’t mention food, weight, portion control, or any of the topics I’ve just written about to him or in front of him. Any discussions I’ve had with my husband or other people were done in private, and should anyone discuss this topic in front of him, I’m quick to cut the conversation. This is our issue to worry about, not his, and we simply have to make better choices on his behalf.
Considering that the doctor’s diagnosis was more of an FYI than a dire warning, I myself don’t want to blow this out of proportion. After all, he’s still on the borderline of being overweight, and we were able to find a few probable causes to his recent weight gain. I’m confident that he’ll continue to be healthy now that we can see where we slacked off and how we can improve.
Have your kids gained weight? What were some of the reasons that led to their weight gain? What actions helped rein it in?