Change your diet first, then change your families diet
‘You can have every confidence that a feeding regime that results in a slimmer child who matures slowly will produce a healthier, longer-lived adult’
Prevention, October 1973, p. 31 “Eat Less To Live More”.
You control what your children eat
What we as adults and parents serve, eat and enjoy, so this is what our kids eat and enjoy. You must walk the talk and eat well if you want your children to do the same. This is actually backed up by scientific research. Parents can increase the number of fruits and vegetables that their children eat simply by eating more themselves. Kids learn their food habits from their parents. Children as young as two notice what foods their parents are bringing into the house and copy those food choices. Poor eating habits can turn infants who gain too much weight into obese toddlers, with a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Replace the processed sweets with naturally sweet
Evolutionarily, we are wired to prefer sweets and fats because they are quick sources of energy that can enhance survival. The food industry knows this and piles sugar, salt, fat and gluten into everything to keep us hooked on junk-food. These refined foods are addictive and dangerous. There is plenty of natural sugar and fats in wholefoods. Students with an increased fruit and vegetable intake are significantly more likely to achieve better results at school; sleep better; are more emotionally balanced; get sick less often; have much stronger immune systems; get over illness faster, and set themselves up for long-term healthy habits.
Overweight kids are in for a life of challenges
Overweight children have a far higher incidence of heart disease, diabetes, joint and bone problems and often suffer from social issues like low self-esteem and stigmatization. We also know there are clear links with lollies and high sugar foods with anti-social behaviour and criminal behaviour later in life. Long term, overweight children are more likely to become overweight adults and more likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type II diabetes and then die of heart disease and cancer. At the current rate, without intervention, this generation of children will have a shorter lifespan than their parents. It is that serious. We have 25% of our children in NZ now obese before they are just 5 years old. They are highly likely to be dead in their 40s after being sick most of their short lives. This is a preventable tragedy.
Ask your kids “what vegetables would you like to choose?” when you are shopping. Make it fun for them – an adventure. I push the trolley and send the kids off grabbing things at the supermarket. I involve them in the choice of foods and have real laughs with it. Go apple picking at an orchard or grandma’s house and then bring them home (eating them in the car on the way), then bake a stunning apple crumble. Move more as a family. We often take our kids up an Auckland mountain on a Sunday morning. They absolutely love it. Our TV died 10 years ago and we did not replace it. We watch movies as a family but not TV daily. Too much TV has a devastating effect on kids. Children who watch less TV eat healthier and move far more.
We place a very big deal on gratitude and appreciation to the food chef in our house. If someone has worked hard to make good healthy food then our attitude is to be very thankful indeed. There are many people alive in the world that never get to experience a single meal as good as the ones we eat most days. We have taught our children that they are privileged to be able to eat as well as they do.
So walk the talk yourself, feed your kids well and give them a sense of appreciation for how INCREDIBLY lucky they are to even have the privilege of choice they do.
Written by Jason Shon Bennett from jasonshonbennett.com