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How can I help my child to stay (or become) lean and healthy?

When children eat mostly whole foods with plenty of vegetables and fruit and do regular physical activity, they naturally gravitate towards a healthy body weight and stay that way. The single most effective way to help your child to eat well is to eat well yourself. If most of the foods you eat at home are nutrient-rich, minimally processed foods, your child will automatically eat that way, too. Try to find active pursuits that you and your child can enjoy together. This will help both of you attain and maintain a healthy weight.

What our readers say...

"Dear Amanda, Well my goodness! I came across your website somewhere in the vastness of the internet and instantly identified with the way you presented your message. The only place in NZ I could locate a copy of your book was Nelson, so I waited patiently (not my strongest skill!) until Christmas when I knew I'd be joining my family there, and the first opportunity I got I bolted for Blackmores bookstore and grabbed a copy. I didn't get a chance to read it over Christmas but as soon as I got home to Wellington I opened it up and just couldn't put it down. To give you a bit of background about me, I'm 172cm & 63 kg. Not overweight really, although definitely carrying too much for my very slender bones and carrying it on my tummy & hips at that. Two years ago I joined a gym and followed their weight-loss programme. Portion control. Carb restriction. Protein increase. No more than 2 serves of fruit per day. I white-knuckled my way through the 12 week programme, and while I had more muscle at the end, I had almost as much body fat & in exactly the same places as when I started. On the outside, I looked just the same & my clothes didn't fit any differently. Grr! I don't even like sweet things all that much, but I tell you, when I couldn't have them what do you think I craved every day? That's right. By this time I was pretty upset. I'd been raised to think of food as a blessing, and here it looked like I was going to have to battle with it every day for the rest of my life. That particularly sucked, because there is nothing I would rather do than spend an afternoon with dear friends, laughing & eating a leisurely lunch I've prepared with love for us all. It is one of the true joys of my life. I started to wonder what the hell to do. I felt stuck. It depressed me to think of it. Life without delicious food is not life, it is existence and a poor one at that. It would not be overstating the case to say your book has been the ray of light I need. Recently I started questioning the people I grew up with who still eat the way they did when I was a child. I don't know if you spent any time in NZ in the '70s or '80s but there were a LOT of hippies around & not a single fat one among them and those who still eat that way are all still slender. Anyway, I've been asking them what they eat & why, and their answers are identical to those given in your book. It is just the best feeling of relief to have my fledgling theories confirmed by your science. In all this rambling, I guess what I'm trying to say is thank you. Thank you very much. To be able to make these lunches for my friends & know that I'm doing a good thing, to be able to eat the food I enjoy in the quantities that feel right - well, it's freedom of the best kind. Bless you Amanda, I needed this. Warmest regards, L.B. P.S. I've recommended your book to the Oprah producers - probably should have asked you first so I hope that's OK with you! I don't know if they've covered it already but I suspect I would have heard if they had. If ever there was a country that needed your book it’s the USA! P.P.S. I have just experienced my first Famine Reaction, and it felt great! I could just feel my body saying wow, thanks! It lasted from Thursday morning until Saturday afternoon, when my body realised it didn't actually need any dinner because it was totally reassured that everything was fine. How utterly lovely to be giving myself what I need in such a satisfying and delicious way. I'll be back in Nelson in a fortnight and will be buying another copy of your book. I've been raving - evangelizing even - to my friends about it but I can't bear to lend it out because I'm using the recipes every day, as well as dipping into it for inspiration. But I do so want my friends to be able to read it that I've decided the best thing to do is have a 'me' copy and a 'friends' copy. "

- L.B., Wellington, New Zealand