You’re a great mom! I know it. I see you playing with your kids in the park. Pushing them on the swing. Laughing. Telling them to be careful as they climb the slide. Your love is definitely apparent. It’s what comes after a day at the playground…

You head to McDonald’s. Once. Twice. No problem. But both days every weekend. Your kids are healthy and happy. You love to squeeze their plump little cheeks. But they aren’t fat, so why worry? Or you tell yourself that they will grow out of it.

According to the American Heart Association, 80% of obese children will remain obese throughout their adulthood.

The issue is that your kids are growing and as they put on fat, they will actually create MORE fat cells. So as you gradually let them put on some excess weight, they are creating more fat cells than other children!

Fast forward 15 years. Your girl is active. She’s at the gym every day and outdoor on the weekends. One Sunday at your house for dinner, she breaks down crying. “Mom, I can’t seem to lose fat. No matter what I do, I am always chubby. Why am I like this when you are skinny and look great?” Your heart breaks and you don’t have an answer.

Your daughter may not have a lot of fat, but she does have a lot of fat cells because she was overweight as a child. All of her exercise will shrink the “plumpness” of the cell, but it will never get rid of them.

Overweight adults who were never fat as a child will be able to lean out if they try to lose weight. If they were fat as children, they will be able to lose weight, but its not likely that they would ever be lean. Either way, they WILL be healthier and live longer…which is the real reward!

Just a reminder that you NEVER want to have your kids start paying attention to numbers on the scale. It can lead to emotional heartache now and in the future. Concentrate on activity and learning proper nutrition.

So what can you do NOW as a parent?

  • Limit the number of times that you eat out at restaurants each week. Why not start a weekly tradition of Pizza Night at home? Easy and the kids can help! Here’s a recipe from Eating Well to get you started:Ingredients
    • 1 pound prepared whole-wheat pizza dough, (see Shopping Tip), thawed if frozen
    • 1 cup canned unseasoned pumpkin puree
    • 1/2 cup no-salt-added tomato sauce
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
    • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • 2 ounces sliced turkey pepperoni, (1/2 cup)
    Cooking Directions
    Step 1
    Place oven rack in the lowest position; preheat to 450°F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
    Step 2
    Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to the size of the baking sheet. Transfer to the baking sheet. Bake until puffed and lightly crisped on the bottom, 8 to 10 minutes.
    Step 3
    Whisk pumpkin puree, tomato sauce and garlic powder in a small bowl until combined.
    Step 4
    Spread sauce evenly over the baked crust. Top with mozzarella, Parmesan and pepperoni. Bake until the crust is crispy on the edges and the cheeses have melted, about 12 minutes.
  • Get out and play!! It’s recommended that kids get 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Make it fun and it won’t be work. Think about your days as a kid and what made you happy. Play Frisbee, tag, hide and go seek, hopscotch. Let your imagination run wild! For a little extra calorie burn, you can even be sneaky if you need to…take an extra lap around the grocery store while the kids are in tow.
  • Hop on the green smoothie train! Kids vs. Vegetables. You can count on that battle as sure as you can count on the sun rising. An easy way to get them to eat more greens is to make them a green smoothie for a snack. Try a mild tasting green like spinach or spring greens, toss in a pear, a dash of honey, and some cinnamon. Be sure to then put it in a dark travel mug so they can’t see it! Easy peasy!

Maybe this is even your story. Knowledge is power, my friend! If this does sound familiar, then its time to stop being so hard on yourself. Be active, eat better, do your best for your health, and let go of the guilt and angst over dieting!

Be sure to tell me about ways that you help your child live better in the comments below!