school

"Don't judge me but...I've put my six-year-old on a diet."

He’s getting fat, so I’m making changes for his own good.

My son has gotten noticeably fatter this year. I’m not talking about cute six-year-old chubbiness. I’m talking about rolls of stomach fat and dimpled skin on his back.

He hasn’t always been big like this. It’s been in the past year that he’s starting putting on an alarming amount of weight. So I’ve put him on a diet, and I think I’ve made the best choice for my son.

It’s not just because I’m worried he will be teased, although this is a concern.

It’s not just because I’m worried he’ll feel bad about himself, although this is a concern.

It’s not just because he’s bursting out of clothes, although this is a concern.

The main reason I have put my son on a diet is because I don’t want him to struggle with his weight, as I have done in the past and as his father is doing now.

"I am determined that my little boy will lose the extra weight..."

Life is cruel for a fat child and vanity aside, putting on weight at his age is a major health risk. He's six and has always been big for his age, but the gut is new.

He started school this year and really struggled to adjust, so in an attempt to make him feel better, I gave him lunch orders not once a week but twice. In addition, I gave him money to spend at the school canteen and he spent every single cent every single week. Unlike my older son who rarely visits the canteen because he is too busy playing with his friends, my six-year-old started buying extra food at recess and lunch, just to cheer himself up because he had no friends. This became a habit and now he eats the food I pack for him as well as the additional food he buys at the canteen.

Unfortunately we don't attend a progressive school with healthy choices. He buys cheesy pizza for $1, garlic bread for $0.50 and flavoured milk for $3. He gorges himself and then comes home and consumes the foods I have lovingly prepared for him. Until recently I was unaware of exactly what he was buying at the school canteen.

Now, I know and I plan to take action. I have:

* Looked up 'diet tips for kids' and made notes, so I make the most affecting changes possible;

* Cleared all of the really unhealthy foods out of our home and replaced it with healthier choices;

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* Told him and his siblings that they are only allowed to eat fruit after dinner;

* Bought takeaway but chosen smaller meals with water, no dessert;

* Started giving him lunch orders once a week instead of twice;

* Greatly reduced how much money I give him to spend at the school canteen;

* Found a karate class for him to join, to increase his activity level on top of the soccer and swimming he already does.

"Life is cruel for a fat child..."

I should explain that he has two siblings without weight issues. They eat much more than he does and don't put on a kilo. His body is completely different and just requires healthier food and less food.

I should also explain that he isn't aware he is on a diet. He hasn't noticed all his treat foods are gone because I stocked up on healthier foods I know he likes. I told him only eating fruit after dinner is to help keep his teeth healthy. He didn't complain too much about the smaller takeaway meals because he was busy playing with the toy that came with it. He did notice less money to spend at the canteen and I just explained that I was saving for Christmas and didn't have as much to give him. He wasn't very happy about it but sees it as temporary. Little does he know...

I am determined that my little boy will lose the extra weight and be healthier and happier. I won't let him go through what I went through as a child and then as a teenager and as an adult. I don't want him to worry about his weight or what he eats. I want to do the worrying for him. If I intervene now before it becomes an even bigger issue, healthy choices will hopefully become second-nature to him.

And I won't have to worry about my son suffering through the torture of being overweight and/or obese. Because there are enough children suffering through that torture already.

Is a child too young to be put on a diet at six? What should parents do when they notice their children are putting on weight?

Want more? Try:

Are juice cleanses for kids completely nuts?

Need ideas for healthy snacks your kids will eat these school holidays?

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