Rabbi Shmuley says his eldest daughter was overweight until she was about 14, and that it was a source of concern for him and his wife. While he didn't want to undermine his daughter's self-confidence by making her feel unattractive or overweight, Rabbi Shmuley says he also didn't want her to be unhealthy or gain an appearance with which she would ultimately be uncomfortable. "What we did was gently speak to her about eating healthier and exercising without pushing the subject too much," he says. "We were fortunate because she began to inspire herself by becoming exceedingly disciplined."
Ideas to Help Curb Childhood Obesity:
- Your family must eat healthy. That means getting rid of sugary drinks, unhealthy snacks and sweets in the home, Rabbi Shmuley says.
- Get outdoors. Play sports, hike and learn to love nature.
- Limit time with technology. "Limit TV and video games to an hour a night, max," Rabbi Shmuley says. "My kids watch no TV during the week."
- Speak gently. "Don't make them feel self-conscious. Empower them," Rabbi Shmuley says. "Tell them they can master this."
- Don't demand giant life changes. Start slowly by telling your child you want them to eat better and get them to go outside for an hour each day. "Don't make them feel like they are bad in any way," Rabbi Shmuley says. "They are perfect. You just want them to be healthier and fitter so that they can have a more active life."
- Explain that the body is something precious. "[The body] is a temple of the soul," Rabbi Shmuley says. "We are guardians of our bodies, a precious gift from God, and we must always live healthy."
"Childhood obesity is the product of a sedentary generation that watches too much TV and indulges in carefree, unhealthy living. The remedy is to get kids to love the outdoors and to respect their bodies as a temple of the soul."