Obesity and GERD: A Family Affair
Obesity is a family affair. If you are overweight or obese, you children are at a much higher risk of being overweight or obese too. Recent studies have confirmed that children who are overweight or obese are more likely to have significant health issues such as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Dealing with obesity is complicated because it can affect the health of your whole family, how you eat and the lifestyle choices you make. Today I am going to focus on developing a family plan for dealing with obesity and GERD.
Childhood Obesity and GERD
Childhood obesity is on the rise and is causing or worsening many conditions we associate with adults such as diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea and heart disease. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is another common condition that occurs with childhood obesity. The good news is the reflux symptoms can be decreased or eliminated by slowing weight gain and changing eating habits.
I have written extensively about childhood obesity and GERD. Check out these Shareposts for more information:
Facing the Scale
If you are like most people, you don’t like to step up onto the scale and see the numbers. It turns out we are not very good judges of our own weight. Only the scale knows. You can take things a step further and check your Body Mass Index or BMI using the BMI Calculator. If your weight and BMI indicate you are heading into trouble, now it is time to check in with the doctor.
Ask the Doctor
As parents and caretakers, we are often vigilant about taking our children to the doctor but neglect our own medical needs. We are all crazy-busy but manage to get the baby to the 4 month, 6 month and 12 month appointment right on time. Somehow you will need to figure out how to squeeze in an appointment for yourself. If you are overweight or obese, it is important to find out your calorie needs, exercise limits and goals just like your child.
Day to Day: Eating
On a day to day basis, there are many small but significant ways to make healthy eating a family affair. In our household, we have a “Snack Drawer”. The drawer is low enough that even the little ones can access it. It is filled with healthy snack choices such as: dried fruit and nuts, low salt/low fat crackers and popcorn.
Your little ones watch what you eat and how you eat. Measure out a portion size and make your own one hundred calorie pack. Our house rule is: all food is eaten at the table. No food is eaten at the couch, in front of the TV or in bed. Period. It is easier to implement this rule when your children are very young. If this is a long standing habit, it may take some time to slowly change the household rules.
There may be some problems where a low calorie/low fat diet meets a low acid diet for reflux. It may seem like there is nothing “safe” to eat. It is easy to get discouraged and give up. In addition, your child with reflux may crave carbohydrates since these are easily digested and skip the other food groups. If you feel like you need extra assistance finding suitable foods and planning meals, ask for a referral to a dietician.
Day to Day: Movement and Exercise
You will need to check in with your doctor and the pediatrician to get advice on starting or changing an exercise plan. You and your child may find that you need to exercise on an empty stomach so you don’t trigger your reflux. There is often a fine line between drinking enough to stay hydrated during exercise and filling your stomach with fluids that slosh around and backwash, causing heartburn symptoms.
Just as your child is watching what you eat and where you eat, your child is watching and modeling your movement and exercise habits. Make a grand announcement and point out your plans for the day. For example: “Wow, it is such a beautiful day. I just have to go outside and take a walk (or bike ride or swim, etc).” Verbalize your goals too. For example: “I am feeling a bit tired but I really want to walk a bit further and see the ducks on the lake.” Some families keep track of their steps, bike trips or laps and give themselves a reward such as movie night or mini golf outing. I think it helps to bring along a friend-for you and your child. A friend, neighbor or the local moms group may provide much needed support for your efforts. If you schedule a time and place to meet each week, you are more likely to get out and move.
Small Steps-Big Investment
Take small steps. By making small changes in the way you eat and spend your leisure time, you are making a big investment in the future health and well being of your entire family.
For further information on obesity go to MyObesityConnection at HealthCentral.