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Raising Fit Kids: Healthy Nurtition, Exercise, and Weight

  This content is selected and controlled by WebMD's editorial staff in collaboration with Sanford Health Systems.

Cope With MOOD to Manage Weight continued...

"It's a two-way street," says David Ermer, MD, child psychiatrist with Sanford Health. "Sometimes when people feel that they're overweight, their self-esteem is lower, maybe because they are not happy with their appearance. They might be teased or bullied because of their size, and that can be stressful and lead to mood symptoms.

"Conversely, if your mood is down, part of depression can be overeating, isolating yourself, and not being as physically involved," he says. "It can go both ways."

Depression isn't something to ignore. "If you have significant depression, you stop caring. You have low energy, low motivation, you're not really as concerned about your appearance or healthy living," says Ermer. "In those situations you need to get some help." Talk with your health care provider, a counselor, or minister.

How to RECHARGE to Manage Weight

When we don't recharge with sleep, we are more likely to gain weight.  You may or may not have noticed that lack of sleep and weight gain often seem to go hand in hand. It seems to make sense -- when you are tired and stressed out, you may be less likely to exercise and eat healthy foods. 

Researchers aren't sure exactly what connects lack of sleep and weight gain, but there definitely seems to be a connection -- especially for kids. A study found that kids who don't get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight by the time they reach 6th grade. And a survey of sleep studies found that too little sleep was a major risk factor for overweight and obesity, especially for children.

Can fixing sleep problems actually help you lose weight if you don't do anything else? Not really. The only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you take in, and sleep doesn't help you burn more calories. But it can help you control your appetite and maintain your focus and motivation to make healthy choices.

Keeping Everything in Balance

So where should your family start? When it comes to following the FIT Platform, "I would try to emphasize a sense of balance," says Tiongson. "You can't overemphasize one thing more than another."

Look over the four FIT components to see what the problem areas are for your family. Perhaps you already eat healthy foods, and your children are active in sports. But maybe the whole family is stretched a little thin from being involved in so many activities. Tempers may flare; kids may cry easily. Emotional resilience may be at a low. Take a step back and set small, achievable goals as a family.

Prioritizing each aspect of the FIT Platform is worth the effort. Because as Linda Bartholomay, LRD, a nutritionist at Sanford Health says, "Fitness means more than having a healthy weight. Fitness is a feeling of overall wellness, where you have the ability and desire to do the things that help you have of the quality of life you desire."


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