I was recently in a discussion with a group of parents. The conversation started out by talking about “diets” and making lifestyle changes. The conversation quickly turned and the focus became healthy eating ideas that the whole family can enjoy. I was truly inspired at some of the great ideas brought up in the discussion. This group has got it! It is not about their individual “diet” and health, but rather, they were truly focused on lifestyle changes that would affect the whole family.
The key is to get your kids involved and, as I have said before, model the behavior. If you eat healthy and encourage it with your children, they will eat healthy too. Start with some easy lessons and create some sort of “family code.” This code applies to adults and kids alike. Is it ok to enjoy some junk food once in a while? Yes, of course it is. What we tend to forget is that it is not always about what we eat but also, when, how and why.
- Eat real food
What is real food? Real food is not processed or heated up in the microwave. It includes nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables and grains, avoiding empty calories that just fill you up and don’t help your body grow, heal and fight off disease.
- Choose water
Your body uses water in all its cells, organs, and tissues to help regulate its temperature and maintain other bodily functions. After oxygen, water is the body’s most important nutrient. Your body loses water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, so it’s important to rehydrate by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water.
- Take your time
If you eat at the table with your family and friends, you can stimulate your brain, converse and learn about the people you love. Try this even twice a week and your family dynamic will change.
- Create an eating curfew
No snacking after 7:00pm.
- Learn to listen to your body
Ask yourself a question or two before you take your next bite. Why am I eating? If your answer to this question is anything other than, “I am hungry!” Then, you might want to think again. If your body is telling you its full, then it probably is.
- Make it a family affair
You’ve heard the saying “birds of a feather…”. If you shop for food together, cook together and eat together, you are likely to live long lives together. Being part of the process gives children a deeper appreciation for the foods they eat, and will help to build good habits that will last a lifetime.
By: Gary Appelsies MS, CHHC, AADP
Director of Healthy Eating