Today my son Ben joined Slimming World. I know that many people are unaware of what Slimming World can do for younger members so in this post I aim to answer those questions and explain why we as parents made the decision to join Ben up as a young Slimming World member. What my concerns are for him, what my hopes are for him, and most importantly how he feels about it.
The above photos are all of Ben taken in the last 2 months. He is 11 and a tall boy for his age at around 5ft 1" tall. Ben is certainly not what people would call skinny but I don't believe he is fat either. The pictures allow you to make your own mind up.
Why do I worry about Bens weight?
I wouldn't say I worry about Bens weight as such but I do feel it is an issue which needs addressing because the habits he has could start causing further issues. Due to Bens special needs he does easily form habits and obsessions so while he is young still it is an ideal time for him to learn healthy habits. Ben at present cant do much exercise or walk far without pain but an upcoming operation may help this, time will tell, but due to his lack of physical activity compared to other children of his age this does concern me that he may gain weight more easily if his food isn't kept under control.
Do you worry that Ben will be like you?
I do worry that Bens obsession with food especially unhealthy foods like chocolate will lead to issues like I have had. When I was about 10/11 at school I was vegetarian and as such didn't often get much for my school dinners (I just got everything but the meat dish, not great on stew days!). I regularly went home telling my mum I had seconds or thirds of pudding at school, and actually many times went back after having had 9ths, something I was proud of but looking back it makes me ashamed. I have always had a sweet tooth and before joining Slimming World myself I used to think nothing of eating a couple of large packs of biscuits in a day alongside family side bags of chocolates and greasy fast food. This is not a life I want for Ben, I want him to learn while he is young how to make healthy but yummy meals he enjoys and how to eat treats in moderation! I really hope that he will never get morbidly obese like I did and will have a great relationship with food as he becomes an adult.
Will you be sharing Bens start weight and how he gets on?
Whilst I will share updates of how Ben is getting on, particularly in the way of photos on my social media I will not share his start weight. This is because he is only 11 and I would never feel comfortable in sharing anything that he wouldn't be happy looking back at when he is older. I will of course share plenty of updates of what food Ben is enjoying and recipes etc.
Do you think Slimming World should encourage youngsters to diet?
No I don't believe anyone should encourage children to diet, however encouraging them to eat more healthily like with the Slimming World Free2go plan I think is a great idea. Ben says he would like to lose weight but I have told him he is growing and the important thing is to eat healthily if he loses weight too that's ok but he doesn't have to. This is very much the way Slimming World work with children. The plan for youngsters centres around them making simple swaps from unhealthy meals and snacks to healthier choices.
Can any child join Slimming World?
No, for a child to join Slimming World they must be 11 and have a parent go with them. The child's doctor or other medical professional who knows the child well needs to sign to say they are happy with them joining and also what they feel about the child's needs nutritionally. More information can be obtained from a Slimming World consultant or on the Slimming World website. Other plans and support for children can be offered by the child's doctor and every child is of course different and has different needs.
Ben proudly showing off his Slimming World
New Member Pack the day he joined.
What happens when a child joins Slimming World?
As with when an adult joins they have a new members talk, this however focuses on the food choices that are best, next best, and foods which should be only had occasionally. The group Ben has joined is on a Saturday morning as I feel this is great for Ben rather than being after a busy day at school. Karen, his Slimming World consultant, chatted to Ben about foods he likes and swaps he could make whilst reassuring him that some of the foods he likes are really healthy or with a simple swap could be great.
How does Ben feel about joining?
Ben is very excited because he knows how well myself and his dad have done with Slimming World and he says "I want to follow in both of your footsteps". Ben loves cooking and thinks it is great that he can make healthy food and tell Karen and the group all about it. Ben was very pleased when he was at the group and recognised one of his school friends and teaching assistants there and I think that helped him feel comfortable there. Everyone made Ben feel very welcome and I am sure he will continue to enjoy going every week.
What sort of foods will you be feeding Ben?
Ben already has homemade chips and has vegetables with most meals so the main changes for him are avoiding things like processed chicken/fish products and making things he enjoys in a more healthy way. The main issues Ben has around food are with snacking and not realising when he is full. We as a family will encourage him more to find other things to do to alleviate the boredom/fidgeting whilst doing other things like watching TV so he doesn't feel the need to eat unnecessarily and have healthy snacks he loves on offer. I have always tried to give Ben reasonably healthy meals but this is a new start for us with his food. Ben enjoyed his first proper meal as a Slimming World Member, he had fish (steamed in the oven), homemade chips and Roasted Mediterranean vegetables in a balsamic tomato sauce which he loves and helped to make himself, picture below.
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