Considering a Low-Glycemic Diet if You Have Kids - dummies

Considering a Low-Glycemic Diet if You Have Kids

By Meri Reffetto

You may want to begin a low-glycemic lifestyle, but is that lifestyle appropriate for other members of your family? A low-glycemic diet can be a good solution for parents looking to help their children with weight loss.

Childhood obesity is on the rise, and with that comes a risk of diabetes and heart disease at an incredibly young age. Children are more sedentary these days, and food choices and portion sizes have changed to big and bigger over the years, ultimately leading to weight gain.

Diet programs for children are tricky, though, because you don’t want them to be part of the statistics of those who lose and gain over and over again. You also have to consider kids’ ages and their ability to deal with self-esteem issues regarding body image.

Here’s why a low-glycemic diet can help:

  • It promotes a healthy long-term relationship with food.

  • It doesn’t restrict kids’ calorie levels too much or limit their carbohydrate levels while they’re growing and active.

  • Low-glycemic foods can be used in moderation so children can feel like they’re living a normal life and not like they’re being put on a “diet.”

  • There’s no need for kids to eat “diet” foods that may make them feel uncomfortable around others their age.

  • It can lower children’s risk for diabetes and heart disease.

  • It can easily be incorporated into kids’ lifestyles without drastic changes.

Research is showing some positive outcomes for adolescents using a low-glycemic diet for weight loss. One study showed that adolescents who followed a low-glycemic diet for a year lost 11 pounds more than those on a traditional low-fat diet.

In this study, the adolescents also preferred the low-glycemic diet over a traditional diet because they didn’t have to count calories or be overly focused on food — both of which are keys to developing a child’s healthy relationship with food as he grows older.

The results for children are mixed. However, even with the inconsistencies, positive outcomes still exist. One small study showed that children who used a low-glycemic diet didn’t change their body weight but did lower their percentage of body fat, their waist-to-hip ratio, and their hunger level.

The interesting factor in this study is that the children replaced at least 50 percent of their carbohydrate choices with low-glycemic carbohydrates, showing again that moderation works well with this particular diet approach — another great plus for kids.

Using a low-glycemic diet alone or combining it with a moderate decrease in calories can be a winning combination for children who need to lose weight. Following are some good tips for starting your child on a low-glycemic diet:

  • Be moderate with your approach. Putting a child on a strict diet will make him miserable and can cause him to fixate on food in an unhealthy way. You get better results with moderation, and you set your child up to have a healthy relationship with food.

  • Make it a family plan. Incorporate the low-glycemic diet for everyone so your child doesn’t feel singled out. Making a child eat pearl barley while everyone else gets pasta is hard on him emotionally and can impact his self-esteem.

  • Encourage fun activities. Strict exercise regimens can make your child end up hating exercise later on in life. Instead of going the strict route, encourage fun activities such as bike riding, swimming, or just getting some old-fashioned play time outside.

  • Find activities that kids enjoy. Outside activities are great, but if your child hates going on bike rides forcing them just leads to resistance to physical activity all together. Perhaps they love swimming or going on a nature walk. Children who find activities they love embrace them for a lifetime.

  • Avoid dieting language. You can influence your child’s weight without putting too much attention on the scale. This approach helps kids naturally develop new habits instead of feeling bad about their bodies or that something’s wrong with them.