Everywhere you look today there is food in some form or another. TV ads and chef shows, radio commercials, magazine ads, a plethora of recipe books in the book store and supermarket, billboards, supermarket brochures, numerous food outlets – the list goes on!
As well as that we seem to plan our days around food events and food is frequently the centre of any occasion or gathering.
Just take a minute to think about your attitude to food, meal times, junk food, healthy food, fruit, vegetables, fatty foods.
What is the atmosphere you create around meal times? Do you have family meal times at all?
Parents often wonder if their child being overweight or obese is due to genetic factors or a medical condition. In fact these cases are very rare. In most cases obesity or overweight is due to an unhealthy, inactive lifestyle. It is these habits that create such a lifestyle that can be passed on from generation to generation so the kids do not know there is another way of doing things. Kids also pick up on their parents attitudes about food and weight. Do you have a love/hate or love/love relationship with food? He/she will pick up on attitudes and also learn by seeing you doing and hearing you say things about food, exercise and weight. I was in the queue at the checkout of a sports store recently and the parents behind me were buying some soccer boots for their young son, his first pair. The parents were commenting rather loudly how they were hoping he wasn’t going to like it so they did not have to spend their weekends standing on the sideline cheering him on! How do you think comments like that can influence the son’s attitude to sports and exercise?
A child cannot learn healthy habits unless his parents teach him. If you truly want to make changes to your child’s weight and health then it is never too late to turn things around. By changing things now you are giving your child a healthier, happier future and preventing weight-related illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. When a child develops a relationship with food that goes a long way past basic nourishment then an eating disorder can be the result. We all know that emotions can affect our attitude to food. Stress, depression, disappointment, loneliness can cause us to eat more so we are comforted by the food even though we are not hungry so weight gain is often the end result.
You might think that these are adult issues but in actual fact they are not. These issues can affect kids in several ways. A child assumes whatever his parents do is right and has no understanding of healthy or unhealthy foods. If he sees you eating a packet of chocolate biscuits while watching TV he will think it is ok to do that and will follow your example. If one person in the family is unhappy then that will affect the others and may influence their food choices, thus affecting the whole family’s food and meal times. You need to have consistent rules and attitudes around food and meal times and regardless of the “feelings” of parents these need to be adhered to.
You will find your attitudes reflected in you own children whether these be positive or negative. When children link happiness and getting positive attention with making healthy eating choices and being active this will encourage them to do it again – exactly what you want them to do! You need to thinking about how you can form healthy habits for life.
• Link a healthy lifestyle to fun, happiness, closeness and belonging, love and positive feelings and acceptance.
• Focus on healthy food being nourishing, interesting, very tasty, energising, health giving.
• Unhealthy food is energy-draining, boring, dull, tasting bad, health-depriving.
• Build a positive relationship to food, exercise and mealtimes
• Be adventurous – try new foods and activities often
What if you don’t make changes now? What does the future look like for you and your family?
“Children get bigger and start watching TV ads….they go shopping with you and see all the junk stacked up as you approach the check out….they see the fast food places with their colourful displays and playgrounds…they start telling you what they want to eat…. Their food habits are ingrained for life. Whether children love you or don’t love you they watch you and they copy.” Dr John Tickell The Great Australian Diet Recipe book.
In closing- this is what kids have to say.
“Don’t be a food cop.” Comments like “You’ve had enough” and “You don’t need that bowl of ice cream” will backfire.
“Don’t make overweight kids feel singled out at the dinner table, like by having meals that are different from everyone else’s. Use your child as an opportunity for the whole family to eat better.” – Aaron T.
“If tempting foods are around, you feel like your family’s not supporting your ambitions. When you are home, you want to relax and not have to worry about being tempted.” – Felicia S.
Jenny Marshall is the founder of Kids Weight Matters, her website ([http://www.kidsweightmatters.com/]) gives you easy access to the information, resources and world renowned experts that can help your child reach their personal weight loss goals and live a happy healthier life.
By: Jenny Marshall