Yes, that season is here. Summer is the time of year when many families wear less clothing to cope with the sweltering heat. From shorts, tank tops, skirts, and body revealing bathing suits like thongs, lace, and even topless (at least at South Beach), DINKS (double income no kids) and families across Florida will start wearing less and, revealing more. The issue for me, and some of my friends and their families is that they just came off of a glutinous season of calorie filled hams, turkeys, mashed potatoes, desserts, milkshakes and, of course, weekly trips to Chick-Filet or Pollo Tropical. As a result, many of the adults and children are in need of losing a few pounds and, not solely for body revealing purposes. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics states that, " The probability of childhood obesity persisting into adulthood is estimated to increase from approximately 20% at 4 years of age to approximately 80% by adolescence." This means that unhealthy family eating habits follow our kids as they grow, and that they will be more likely to suffer from health problems related to obesity like heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The moment for teaching healthy eating habits is an integral part of parenting and education is as crucial as ever.
A few days ago I was talking about losing weight with a fellow mom. She said that she sat down with her family and started a discussion about their family's menu of food, and, eating habits. As the adults and ultimate decision makers in the family, she and her husband were ready and willing to take the plunge into carrots, salads, lean meats and, exercise. Her children on the other hand were much less interested and even pushed back claiming that they were "just kids" who needed sweet treats and Chick Filet to be able to have energy. The teacher in her kicked in and she started showing them kid friendly videos and talking about how they felt when they played outside. She made a chart and they listed the differences between healthy food and junk food (she even had them look up the definition to "junk") Her son commented that he had a harder time running with the other kids when they played soccer during recess and her daughter admitted that she had not been participating in any physical sports during recess because she hadn't had the energy lately. Finally, after the family meeting and teachable moment, her family had agreed on starting "healthy eating habits".
It has been about two weeks since they started and I have already noticed a difference in her childrens' slimmer beautiful faces. My friend told me that it hasn't been easy for any of them (even her!), but, that it has been worth it. I asked her if she could condense the steps that she has taken to launch her family's healthy eating habits plan and this is what she shared with me:
1. Accept that YOUR habits have to change first. You and your spouse must improve your eating habits first and model the healthy eating goals for your children.
2. Provide healthy choices (especially snacks) like fruit, vegetables, low carb alternatives, and water instead of sugary drinks.
3. Schedule family exercise time and incorporate a routine (walking the dog, swimming, biking, soccer, or yoga.
4. Plan, prepare, and pack healthy lunches for everyone at school or work as well as, weekday dinners.
5. After week 1, if you personally are craving :not so healthy food: (McDs…) stick with this important final piece of advice: PIG OUT IN PRIVATE!!
I think that ultimately, everyone must remember that the way we feed ourselves, and our children is a lifelong journey that will expose us to lots of different paths, choices, and ways that we will feel about ourselves. It is never wrong to veer off the journey, or to try a different path as long as we remember that we are what we eat and that eating is more than how we “look” but rather, how we feel about ourselves, and, how our organs are managing our health. Stay positive, praise everyone and be sure to take baby steps! Good luck!