Dietitians around the world will often hear claims from parents along the lines of, “Well, I’m overweight so my kids will probably be too.” While genetics will play a role in the size and weight of a child, experts say the factors that will make the most impact on a person’s weight, is their environment and lifestyle.
We are in the midst of an obesity epidemic, and our genes haven’t suddenly just changed. It is the types of food consumed and the dwindling activity levels of the majority of people in modern society. The good news is that you are in total control of your weight and your future, and some simple changes can make massive differences for your children (and yourself)…
Independence for your Child
While you need to provide healthy and nutritious meals for your children, don’t police their intake.
When you constantly push your child to stop eating, or even to eat more, you may create emotional stress that will then be connected with food.” //superkidsnutrition.com
Kids being told that certain foods are ‘bad’ and ‘incorrect choices’ can lead to a disconnect to internal hunger cues, leading to an inability to properly regulate eating behaviour. The repercussions of this are of course, eating disorders.
Essentially, hover away from being a helicopter parent, just serve your family food, and lead them eat what and how much of it they want.
Good eating behaviours, that is. It is shown that your children will likely copy their parents, particularly in their eating and lifestyle choices. This is where the genetics argument gets a run for its money. If mum and dad are tucking into a bowl of ice cream every night, chances are your kids will want to follow suit.
Do you snack in front of the television. Is drive through junk food a sometimes deal or at least once a week? Does your family make a habit of carrying water around with you to sip on during the day?
Not only is family activity or exercise great on the heart and body, it’s a good chance for some good old fashioned family bonding. You don’t need to hit the weights room with your kids, but some outdoor sports, bike rides or hikes will prove to be great ways to exercise as well as spend time with your kids.
Strong is the new Skinny
Use the right language around your kids, with the emphasis on the importance of being healthy, strong and fit, as opposed to ‘looking thin’ or ‘looking fat’. Again, lead by example, lift some weights in their view, go for jogs and encourage them to join you, participate in sports…
Best not to talk to kids about dieting, or even discuss it in front of them.
“Diet-talk sends the message to children that it is normal to dislike your body and want to change it. Instead, practice positive body talk by praising yourself and other family members for their healthy habits and beautiful bodies—no matter what their shape!” // superkidsnutrition.com
Everything in moderation, and set realistic targets. 80/20 is a good rule to go by, ensuring that 80% of the time you’re eating healthy things and practicing healthy habits, while for the remaining 20% you’re indulging a little. This can help promote a healthier relationship with food for their future.