The Do’s And Don’ts Of Dieting With Kids

Published by Bonnie on

With so many children today struggling with their weight, more parents are looking for ways to help them. And that is a wonderful trend.  However, when it comes to dieting with kids, we can enable either success or utter failure depending on how we approach it.

This listing of Do’s And Don’ts will help you lay the foundation for a successful weight loss strategy for your kids.

Don’t Count Calories.  Do Pay Attention To The Type of Calories Consumed.

Apple Nutrition Facts

Compare the nutrition of 1 medium apple with the Nabisco 100-calorie snack packs.

Oftentimes, this is the counsel given to parents by their pediatrician: “Just reduce their daily calories each day to X amount.”  Counting calories, however, makes food choices much harder and more complicated than necessary, in my opinion.  It puts an inordinate focus on the caloric number and not the caloric content, which is much more important.

A 100-calorie snack pack is not the same as 100 calories of raw apple slices. When dieting with kids, replace nutrient-deficient (and typically high-calorie) foods with nutrient-dense alternatives.  Fresh vegetables and fruits do more to improve your child’s digestion, metabolism, and blood sugar than the prepackaged cookies and snacks.  It’s much easier to incorporate some healthy eating tips than counting calories.

Don’t Substitute Fruit Juices For Sodas.  Do Make Water The Drink of Choice.

Fruit juice might sound like a healthier option than soda, but for a child struggling with their weight, it is not.  Fruit juice, like soda, is loaded with sugar.  Fruit juice adds extra calories without a sense of feeling full or satisfied (unlike eating the whole piece of fruit).  These become extra calories your child simply does not need nor utilize.

Water, water, water.  We can all stand to benefit from drinking more of it.  Help your child start the water-drinking habit.  Serve water at your meals instead of other drinks. If necessary, start by flavoring the water naturally with a fresh-squeezed lemon or orange.

Don’t Ignore Your Child’s Desire To Learn About Good Health.  Do Involve Them In The Dieting Changes.

Most kids really do want to know how to feel their best.  They want to know how their bodies work and how to help them work better.  Use a nutrition-tracking tool like Fitbook Junior to educate and motivate them to make healthier choices. This will help them feel a sense of responsibility in the changes…and a sense of accomplishment when they succeed!

Don’t Make Your Child Diet Alone.  Do Involve The Whole Family.

This is the one mistake I have seen so many times. And it never works. Make changes to your entire pantry and refrigerator, not just your child’s plate.

Think About It: Did your child get to where they are today by eating foods from your pantry and refrigerator?

Then this needs to be the exact same way they get to a healthier weight.  Your whole family most likely has some diet changes to make.

I have heard it said that if you keep good food in your home, than your child will eat good food.  I wholeheartedly agree.  Kids will simply eat from what is available.  So if you don’t want them picking up a bag of chips or cookies for a snack, don’t have these as options in your home…at all.  Just like adults, kids are visually stimulated when it comes to food.  When they see it, they want it.  Don’t make your kids struggle with this at home.

Don’t Call It A “Diet.”  Do Call It A “Lifestyle Change.”

How we label things matters.  For most people, “diet” means a temporary limitation of calories or food choices.  Don’t make the diet changes with your kids something that is only temporary.  If the diet changes are temporary, then your child’s weight loss will be temporary as well.

Instead, call it a change of lifestyle.  Call it what you want it to be. Make the diet changes and then commit to eat and live differently with your kids.  This mindset will serve your child long into the future, and you will never regret it. Your kids will thank you.

So which of these tips will you initiate with your own family? What will the weight loss strategy be with your own kids?  Please share your thoughts below!

Feature Image Photo Credit: baristakay via Compfight cc


Bonnie Hershey currently serves as a business and nutrition coach with their business, Hershey Holistic Health. She holds an undergrad degree in education, and a certification in Practical Nutrition from the Northwest Academy of Practical Nutrition. She has over 20 years of leadership experience and enjoys encouraging others in their personal growth.


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