Monday, March 14, 2016

Food for Thought

Recently, I have had several conversations with different friends regarding their child's weight.  First off, I am not a dietician or nutritionist.  All of my information is based off my own research and my personal opinion from my own trial and error.  You can take it or leave it.  But, I feel that I need to get my thoughts out around the issue of the health of children in regards to nutrition. 

There is a lot of conflicting information out there.  There are diets, fitness programs, school lunch programs, and the government has a published set of guidelines.  Adults are bombarded with diet aids as well.  So, with all of this overwhelming information how do you chose what to follow?  Do you trust the guidelines set forth?  Where do you even start?

My first bit of advise for anyone: Start small.  Don't think about all of the recommendations and swirl.  Focus on one thing at a time until you have it under your belt good.  This is really the tip that helped me lose 60 pounds.

Find one thing you are willing and able to change.  I have a lot of ideas around this, but you have to pick what will work best for your family.  Maybe it is adding a serving of vegetables to your diet.  What!? No, one in your family likes vegetables.  Say it isn't so (that last sentence is total sarcasm).  I know there are many kids out there who won't touch anything green unless it is artificially colored.  So, how do you get your kid to eat a vegetable?  Mix it with something they like.  Disguise it.  Dip it in ranch.  Puree it and add it to their mac and cheese.  Throw some spinach in a smoothie. Here, is where I am going to guide you to the following cookbooks:

The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine

Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld

Get them used to eating veggies.  Ask them to try it.  Take x amount of bites.

Another idea is to get them involved.   It could be with the meal planning or cooking.  I found with my picky eater, she is more apt to try something if she helped make it.  Giving them the ability to chose what the family eats for dinner also gives them a sense of pride and ownership in the meal.  I generally give them some guidance like: pick a vegetable to go with spaghetti.  I usually give both my daughters a choice, though.  If I have the meals planned out for the week I will say, "M, spaghetti or chicken nuggets?  L, green beans or broccoli." 

If you don't buy it/have it; you can't eat it.   If you stop buying (fill in the blank food you overindulge on) you can't eat it.  Same goes for healthy foods: if you don't have healthy foods in your kitchen, you can't eat them (because they are not readily available to eat).  Don't feel a victim to the foods you have to give up.  I have a really bad sweet tooth and pastries are my weakness.  I don't buy them to bring in the house.  I will buy them as a treat and enjoy them away from my humble adobe.  I know if I have them in the house, I will eat every last crumb.  But, I don't deprive myself of them either.

Don't focus on what you are giving up...focus on what you are gaining.

Don't make it seem like there is something wrong with them.  Always keep in mind that they are watching you and picking up cues from you.  Make conversations about getting healthier and being healthy and what does that mean and look like.  For me being healthy is being able to do more stuff with my kids.  It is about being there for them and it is something we are all in together.

And one big one: Celebrate every single accomplishment!  Your son tried roasted broccoli?  High five!  Your daughter drank all water and no juice?  Cheers (with water glasses).  Someone lost 5 pounds!?  Mani's all around.  Let them pick the goal and mini goals that support the big goal.  Most importantly, work together to create a non-food related reward system around what motivates your child.  I try to keep in the back of my mind that I give the dog food treats...