Elaine Rosen, M.D.
This time of year, it’s all about the numbers: the number of days left before Christmas, the number of gifts you need to buy, the number of dollars left on your credit limit, the number of calories in that glass of egg nog – and the number of pounds you hope to lose after the holidays. Often these days, parents are trying to help their kids slim down, too.
Elaine Rosen, M.D., says most of us are going about it all wrong.
“You really have to put the number on the scale on the back burner,” says Rosen, mother of four and a physician on staff at the California Center for Healthy Living in Encino. Rather than restricting kids’ food and focusing on weight loss, focus on healthy eating and healthy attitudes.
Rosen points out several ways kids and adults differ when it comes to weight loss:
- Kids are still growing. And if a child grows an inch but her weight stays the same, that is the equivalent of 5 pounds of weight loss in an adult.
- Kids haven’t yet developed a self-identity. Their main goal is to fit in with their peers, which makes them susceptible to the media’s images of unrealistic body types – and to a society that pushes fat but rewards thin (“Be a size 2, but supersize your fries,” says Rosen).
- Kids are prone to rebellion, and have difficulty controlling their impulses. This makes them poor candidates for a “diet.” Rosen calls a diet “anything you start on a Monday,” meaning it takes you outside your normal eating pattern in a restrictive way.
Unfortunately, parents who never learned to manage their weight properly themselves are now setting the example for their kids. “These kids are all being raised by a generation of dieters,” says Rosen. Fortunately, parents willing to make a few simple changes can make a big difference in their family’s eating habits. Click here to read Rosen’s tips, and find resources she recommends …