Is there a problem?
I spend a lot of my time in pediatrics looking at growth charts. Often, children are referred because their weight falls high or low on the growth chart. But that doesn't mean the child has a problem!
The below are examples of entirely normal growth charts (borrowed from a presentation by Ellyn Satter (CLICK HERE for the webinar). Some children may fall on the higher end of the growth chart and others fall on the lower end. What's important is that weight is trending up at a relatively consistent rate.
When weight plateaus, accelerates or decelerates quickly, it's time to investigate what might be happening:
Here's an example from my own clinical experience. The below individual came to me at the age of 11 years old. After reviewing their growth chart and history, many life changes lined up with weight changes:
Weight is not a "problem" to be fixed.
The weight (and more so the weight changes) are a symptom of an imbalanced relationship with food, body, and movement.
What might be happening?
What can I do?
As a parent, we all want to just "fix" the problem and literally see it resolve. However, body weight is not the issue here. It's a symptom of imbalanced behaviors / environment / feeding dynamics. The behaviors are what need to be fixed and behavior change is not fast. Moreover, the goal is to create a positive, long lasting relationship with the body and food.
I am a tremendous fan of Ellyn Satter's Division of Responsibility in Eating (see image below). It's a fantastic model to foster trust between a parent and a child. It's perhaps the most well referenced child feeding model used in pediatric nutrition. However, it's only effective if carried out consistently and in the right environment. What's great about the model is that the shift more to the child as they get older.
Here are some extra tips to take into consideration:
What should I avoid?
There is a lot to consider when it comes to improving and healing your child's relationship with food - the above list is not all inclusive and doesn't account for every circumstance. But the moral is: Food should be healthy and nourishing but also fun and social. The above tips are designed to help find that balance. Nutrition counseling can help you identify reasonable starting points that work well with your goals.
For more information about helping your child's relationship with food, check out:
DISCLAIMER: The information presented here is meant to be for general education. If you want individual guidance to reach your unique health goals, please contact me or a local dietitian directly
Dietitian, personal trainer, mother, wife, runner, and triathlete staying healthy one bit and bite at a time