If you really want to help your children avoid obesity, then the first step along this path is to stop buying all those prepackaged and previously prepared foods and finish off all that remains in the freezer, refrigerator and pantry. Sorry folks, but this includes those boxes/containers of Mac & Cheese, pasta with seasonings in a bag, frozen pizza, nuggets, burritos, puddings, cookies, cakes, chips, soda, juicy drinks, pre-manufactured dips and even those tiny, yet expensive containers of flavored yogurt.

"Oh no, my kids love this stuff and it's easy. I got to work, I don't have time to cook Lady!"

Yes, I understand where you are coming from, but look at it from this point of view: They are not the healthiest or least expensive choices you can make to feed your family with! Sure your family may favor these foods, but when you child is not very active, these foods do not provide much nourishment, instead only go to the gut, add excess weight to their bodies and often promote the desire to just sit around watching TV or exercising their thumbs playing video games.

Plus, many of these foods also can induce crankiness, lack of focus, negative attitudes and laziness or introverted withdrawal which implies that they turn within themselves. Ah ha, did I get your attention! Yes mom and dad, although these types of food initially provide comfort, most are prepared with excess sugars that lead to a temporary sugar rush, which crashes rapidly into crankiness or depression! Besides they really do cost you more money, for you are paying for the colorful packaging, advertisements, and excess ingredients add for weight, shelf life and flavor.

Granted not all prepackaged foods are bad, frozen veggies are great; just reframe from purchasing those with sauce added, for you can add your own butter or cheese in moderation. You see when you open a previously flavored bag or box; all you are doing is providing food. Yet when you take just a few minutes to toss a meal or snack together, you have the advantage of limiting the amount of sugar, fats and salts added. And if that is not enough, think of the benefits of good home cooking, for just the fragrance alone will cause your family to gather around the table. Also, there is a reason why people have a tendency to hang out in the warmth of a home kitchen. Memories, flavors, lessons for a lifetime and values get shared within these soothing walls that last for years to come. While prepackaged just gets eaten.

It doesn't take much to love your kids more, while feeding them less—in fact all it takes is the want and a whole lot of love.

Step 2: How to adjust serving sizes and avoid over-feeding and eating with ease!

One of the most important ways to induce weight loss, and/or prevent excess weight gain in your children is to feed them less by individually adjusting the serving sizes of the foods you prepare or have had prepared (such as take-out). Medical experts recommend that a typical serving size is equivalent to the size of the fist or palm of the individual being served; thus, use this measurement as your guide. Literally, fill each plate individually according to this measurement, and stop placing all the serving bowls and plates on the table from which all can serve themselves. This small act alone helps to eliminate extra large servings and the temptation for a second helping. Also, begin to cook just a little bit less, such as boiling three potatoes to be mashed instead of four; or prepare four burgers on the grill, rather than six or seven, as one burger per person is enough. If your loved ones still want more, remind them that there is more salad or a large bowl of fresh fruit available to fulfill their desire for more food. Additionally, when you are cooking a large batch of food with the intention of storing some of it for another day, remind your family that the excess is for another meal, not now. End of subject!

Although creatively filling serving plates and adjusting serving sizes may initially be challenged by your loved ones, keep in mind that large servings are a definite contributor to excessive weight gain, especially in children. Large servings cause the stomach to expand more, resulting in a feeling of being too full to move, play, or work. Additionally, once the stomach gets used to such expansion, this feeling becomes expected whenever one eats, thus contributing to excess weight gain. Teaching your kids to recognize when they have had enough to eat is a fabulous way to reduce unwanted weight gain. Many years ago, a friend's mother taught me just how to do this. She instructed me to recognize the slight feeling of a bulge in my belly against my pants or skirt as an indication that my body has had enough food during the meal. Teach your kids to recognize this feeling, as if their bodies are talking to them and telling them to stop eating because it have had enough. This is a great way to begin promoting good eating habits, and decreasing the old habit of overeating simply because there is more food to be devoured.

And if the older kids or family members begin to complain (which initially they most likely will), remind them of your love while pointing to the bowl of fruit or salad to fulfill their want for more food. If the complaining continues, simply remind them that: "I'm sorry honey, but we are changing the way we eat because I love you and want you to have more energy to play and enjoy life with!" Is this easier said than not--- NO it's a positive and much more effective than informing that they are fat and must go on a diet! Sure, some may curse at you or respond with "Ohhh Mommm," but just smile, stick to your words, and watch the respect grow.

Lastly, an important concept to keep in mind is that good, homemade food produces many positive results, including a dash of an ego boost for the cook. It feels so good and warm when we see our families and friends grabbing for that extra large or second helping. However, although it personally feels great to see and hear such praise, accept it and be pleased with yourself; but do not let your ego get in the way of developing better eating habits in your household. One serving of each food prepared is enough. If they want more, tell them they can have more salad, veggies or a piece of fresh fruit, rather than an extra helping of macaroni and cheese, a 2nd burger or another piece of pie.