Is your child or teen overweight? – The Food Sensitive Shopper

boys-1185050-sLosing weight is a family affair

Children with food allergies or intolerance can also have weight issues.  Before you place your child on a calorie restrictive diet it is important to visit your child’s pediatrician for guidance on whether your child is actually overweight and to determine the cause.  Sometimes children pack on weight right before a growth spurt or puberty then lose it during the growth spurt.  That does not necessarily mean your child should be on a calorie restrictive diet.  If overeating, too much junk food and inactivity is the cause then it is time to plan how to improve health and reduce fat content.

As parents we are the role models.  Are you allowing poor food choices, snacking, and overeating?  Allowing is a form of teaching and by allowing unhealthy choices you are giving permission to let your child grow up unhealthy.  With food allergies and intolerance we may allow more sugary foods or treats since other everyday foods are left out of the diet.  I know we used to allow safe sugary or salty treats more often when our son’s food allergen list was a mile long.  It didn’t take long to realize that our son was starting to expect these while not eating as many healthy foods as available in our home.

If your child is in need of weight loss; perhaps your child’s pediatrician has suggested to lose weight; or you want to have a healthier lifestyle we have some suggestions:

  • Avoiding calling your child or teen overweight or fat – discuss health in ways that make you and your child motivated to improve activity and nutrition.  Tip:  Every day have a conversation with a pointed question like:  ‘Tell me one funny thing that happened today’, ‘What did you do today that you are proud of?’, or ‘Guess what I (saw, learned, heard) today…how about you?’  Our family does this regularly at dinner and everyone answers the question when ready.  It builds positive relationships, helps improve conversation skills, and helps everyone to focus on the positive.
  • Exercise together – this is a great way to support each other by creating a family team that is trying to achieve a goal.  This is a daily activity…30 minutes or more per day until you reach an hour per day.  Don’t know what to do?  Click on the Nourish Interactive logo:  Nourishinteractivesmll
  • Recreate – Add a fun recreational activity to your week as a family outing.  You can do this inexpensively too.  Examples – bowling, throwing a Frisbee at the park, go for a long walk after a meal
  • Remove foods with empty calories like soda, sugary or salty foods from your daily diet.  They eventually cause more harm than good.   If you need a ‘treat’ limit dessert to once per week and salty snack foods to once or twice per week and the appropriate serving size..  This sets a healthy standard they can follow throughout life.  These should be allowed occasionally but not every day.  Tip:  Rewards should be non-food based.  It takes time to let go of ‘congratulations on finishing your project here’s a cookie’.  But you can do this…try praise, hugs, high fives or a favorite game instead.  It is a more long-lasting positive emotional reward than food.
  • Be a good listener but don’t cave to pressure for unhealthy choices.  Studies show that children don’t respond to ‘I told you to stop eating those cookies after school each day’ and other negative comments.   Caving to pressure to drink soda at mealtimes or eat two desserts only creates confusion and gives your child the power over you, the parent.   The best practice is be a great role model by shopping for healthy foods and eating them as a family.  Our children can be relentless with trying to get their way.  Say no then walk into another room and/or distract by changing the subject.
  • You are what you eat which suggests if you eat unhealthy foods you will become unhealthy.  This is an important reminder when choosing food to feed our children.
  • Plan meals together to empower children to make healthier choices and learn to sustain this behavior into adulthood.
  • Find balance with food choices by allowing pizza, hot dogs, ice cream, or other high sugar, high fat, or high salt foods occasionally (once per week or less).  This helps your child learn how to have better self-control, greater awareness of nutritious vs. not nutritious foods and learn about moderation.
  • Get away from the TV, computer, and other screens – Not only is screen time sedentary but it places your child’s body/mind in an unbalanced state (anecdotal evidence)  Have you noticed how wound up your child is after playing hours of video or computer games?  Is your child less apt to listen to you then?  Is there more whining, complaining and stubbornness?   Well, that is a sign of your child’s brain being wound up and the body out of balance because it sat still most of the time.  Limit to one hour of screen time then require kids to exercise to re-balance the body with the brain.  We do this in our home and it has worked with three boys.  Read this article later for more info…

 Serving sizes






Serving sizes are important and a necessary element for proper weight loss because they give a measurement of how much food your body needs, no more and no less.  Here is what you need to know about serving sizes to gauge your child’s and possibly your own eating behavior….

  • Meat, fish, poultry – One deck of cards.  Sounds like a tiny bit but the reality is this is all your body needs during the meal.
  • Cheese – Four dice.  That translates to one slice of medium pizza, one small bowl of mac and cheese, a small serving of lasagna, four crackers with cheese,  6 dips of queso with your whole grain chips, and 2/3rds of a cheese stick.  Cheese is a nutritious food but should be limited to one serving per day if you drink milk or alternative milk products.  If you are lactose free you should be able to digest this serving size a couple of times per week.  Be sure to get calcium from non-dairy sources if you cannot tolerate milk
  • Starches – A tennis ball or computer mouse. That means a small potato (or half of a large one), 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of cereal, one small apple, one slice of bread, and one ear of plain corn on the cob.
  • Leafy vegetables A Baseball …no, not the softball…that is a larger ball. One small bowl of salad greens or 1/2 cup of cooked greens (they shrink).
  • Fruits and vegetables (non-leafy) – 5 baseballs.  Five cups per day of fresh, cut fruits and vegetables.  Be sure to mix it up rather than allow your child to eat 5 bananas per day for example.  The more color and variety in your diet the healthier and more nutrient dense the diet happens to be.  Translation for a single serving:  1/2 banana, one small apple, one orange, a handful of mini-carrots or broccoli, 1/3 to 1/2 of a cucumber, or 5-6 strawberries.
  • Bread -A plastic CD case. Most bread except for gluten-free varieties are too big.  Try a half of a sandwich with a side salad, piece of fruit and large glass of water.
  • Chips/pretzels – 12 chips/ handful of pretzels max; heavy salt here – beware.  This equals one small bag.  Too much salt can be dangerous for your body’s functions over time.  Soft pretzels – 1/3 to 1/2 max is the serving size.  This is an ‘occasional’ food.


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I am here to help you get moving and eating healthy especially if you are dealing with food restrictions. Send us an email with your questions…


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