Gaining weight on a healthy diet
To understand this, you need to keep a close track on the calorie and fat intake of what your son eats and in particular to monitor the portion size. People are often unaware of the amount of food that they need and the recommended calorie intake for children and adults is often a good deal less than the amount of food they expect to be eating.
Though you have made a great start in tackling his intake with the lists of the food in the question, full analysis is harder than it seems and you may need the help of a professional dietitian to complete this.
In helping your son manage, the key is not to focus on dieting or over-restricting his diet – you don’t want to make him feel bad about his weight and you want to keep the focus on healthy and positive eating.
Generally, with children the advice is not to aim for weight loss but rather to maintain their weight and to “grow into” the weight they are.
A professional dietitian will be able to advise you on selecting appropriate foods for your son and what changes to make to the mealtime routine.
However, simple things can make a difference such as always starting meals with smaller portions and allowing him to ask for more if he is hungry (eg in the morning maybe start with the Weetabix, before offering cornflakes or indeed starting the breakfast with a piece of fruit).
In addition, it is important to not insist he “finish his plate” no matter how healthy the food is and to ensure meals are taken slower and consciously such as at the dinner table rather than on the go. Other changes could be restricting treats such as chocolate to the weekend only or to have a special family night when treats can be bought.
In addition to considering your son’s diet, you also need to review his weekly level of physical activity. Though he appears to be doing a lot of sport, it depends on the frequency, the level of intensity of the sport and whether he is fully participating as to whether it will lead to fitness for him.
Many children participate in a sport in a pedestrian manner and this is of little fitness benefit.
In making changes to your son’s diet and lifestyle, it is often best to approach it as a family project. Involve yourself, your partner and your other children in a new healthy family lifestyle.
Review everyone’s eating habits and activity levels and make family goals that everyone participates in. Such a family-based approach doesn’t single your son out, benefits everyone and has a much better chance of succeeding.
John will be giving a Positive Parenting seminar in Galway on September 24th. see solutiontalk.ie
Dr John Sharry is a social worker and psychotherapist and director of ParentsPlus charity. His website is solutiontalk.ie .
Readers’ queries are welcome and will be answered through the column, but John regrets that he cannot enter into individual correspondence. Questions should be e-mailed to email@example.com