Wednesday December 5, 2018
The national child obesity rate is an alarming 19%. With summer coming to a close and the school year starting, teaching your children healthy eating habits can help your children (or teen) maintain a healthy weight and now and to adulthood.
Try to make mealtimes enjoyable and stress free. Meal times are not a time for arguing or discipline. Unpleasant mealtimes could cause children to eat quickly to leave the room as soon as possible. This could lead your child to associate eating with stress. Also, try to have specific eating areas in the home as allowing food throughout the house can lead to unhealthy eating habits.
Did you know? Eating in front of the T.V. can cause you to consume 30% more calories.
One can detect hunger and fullness better when eating slowly. A good rule of thumb to determine the size of one’s stomach is to look at the size of your fist. A child will not be able to consume as much food as an adult or an older sibling. Forcing a child to finish their plate when they are actually full can form unhealthy eating habits. On the other hand before offering a second helping, ask your child to wait at least 15 minutes and drink a glass of water to see if they are truly hungry. The extra 15 minutes will give the brain time to register fullness or give the child time to find something fun to do as boredom can cause unhealthy eating habits.
Shop & Cook Together
Involve children and teens in food shopping and preparing meals. This will give you valuable insight of your child’s food preferences and gives you the precious opportunity to educate the family about proper nutrition. Preparing one’s own meal can give a sense of pride and accomplishment and the child may be more willing to consume foods that they prepared themselves.
Keep a wide variety of healthful foods on hand and leave unhealthy choices at the grocery store. Make snacks as nutritious as possible. Picky snacker? Try giving your child a choice of what they would like to enjoy at snack time instead of dictating what your child cannot have. Focusing on what they can have can help break the picky eater cycle.
Food as a reward
Try not to use food as a punishment or reward. Withholding food as a punishment may lead children to worry where their next meal is going to be resulting in overeating when food is available to them again. On the other hand using food as a reward such as cookies and candy, can teach your children some foods are more valuable than other foods.
Example: Rewarding a with a cookie after eating all their green beans will not change the child’s perception to like green beans more. It’s more likely your child will place a higher value and increased desire for cookies and still dislike green beans.
Pay attention to portion size and ingredients. Many prepackaged foods contain a lot of unnecessary salt, sugar, fat, and chemicals. Also, be sure the appropriate portion as indicated on the label is served.
Example: A label on a can of soup may say 120 calories. However the can contains 2 servings.
Packaged foods tend to be higher in fat, salt and sugar than foods cooked from scratch. Cooking with fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and legumes. Instead of being overly concerned with counting calories, imagine your diet in terms of color and freshness.
Example: Replace corn chips and fries with sweet potatoes and homemade cornbread. Exchange a frozen pizza with whole grain flatbread, olive oil, fresh tomatoes, feta cheese and olives.
Sudden Diet Changes
Making sudden, radical changes to eating habits can lead to short term weight loss. However such radical changes are not healthy, and can cause your child to dislike healthy foods even more. Planning meals ahead of time and involving your children in the meal/snacking making process can ensure that your family consumes healthy well-balanced meals.
Example: Slowly incorporate healthy food into your child’s diet such as: instead of serving 3 cookies at snack time, serve 1 cookie and 2 slices of an apple.
Quick Recap Do not:
- Eat too fast
- Serve too large of portions
- Eat when not hungry
- Use food as a punishment or reward
- Make too drastic changes to your child’s diet
Quick Recap Do:
- Involve your child in shopping and preparing meals/snacks
- Drink a glass of water and wait 15 min before consuming more food
- Keep healthy snack choices readily available
- Pay attention to portion sizes
- Gradually change diets to incorporate healthy foods while slowly omitting unhealthy foods
- Prepare meals at home using healthy organic foods when possible
It Takes Time
Be patient with your child. Habits (good or bad) take time to develop.
Did you know? It takes approx 21 days to create a habit.
When finding your child engaging in an unhealthy habit don’t be quick to scold.
Instead ask them: Why did you eat that food?
Ask yourself: What changes do I need to make as a parent?
Be careful not to berate your child or yourself. Be a good example. Strive to be healthy one day at time. Falling down and getting up is not failure. Falling down and giving up is. Feel free to comment below and share your experiences!