Some of you may have seen the show "Honey, We're Killing the Kids" on TLC. Rough name, I know, especially when the host says that exact thing to the parents of overweight children. But the show's got a good point, and it gets it across pretty clear. They show pictures of what the kids may look like in the future if their habits (well, their parents' habits, in most cases) continue. The host then gives them a plan of improved eating and exercise.
After watching the show with my boyfriend one night, I started thinking about how we'd raise our future children. I don't want them near hardly any of the stuff I ate as a child (sugary cereals, lots of cheese). I had a good metabolism (then) and could eat what I wanted and not gain a pound, but it still wasn't good for me, I realize now.
Wanted to get your take? How do you, or do you plan, to teach your children about healthy eating and exercise.
Parents responsibility . I think it something many parents have a difficult time. I am not a mother, so I cannot speak from experience, only what I have noticed. Growing up, I had a friend whose mother was very strict with her children's diets - all home grown vegetables, no junk food in the house, not even low-fat ice cream, etc. The reproductions of this were that her children would trade lunches with others, binge on ice cream at friends' houses, and chose to eat at fast food joints with friends when given the choice. I think parents need to find a happy medium. Teach their children about health and it's importance, have them involved in sports, but also let them enjoy ice cream or cookies every now and then. I don't think children have a good comprehension of planning for the future, so let them indulge occasionally (especially since their metabolism will take care of it).
Healthy Kid. We have a super healthy six year old boy, as in never gets a cold, is rarely tired or wired. He is neither over nor underweight. He has great teeth and beautiful hair and skin. Yes, some of it is genetic. For that, we are truly fortunate and grateful. But here are a few examples of what we do to nurture what nature has given us.
Some things we do for and with him:
Model healthy eating and encourage (w/o pressure) him to follow. This includes lo-fat, lo carb and moderately high protein meals with fresh fruit or vegs at every one of them. Usually organic and whole grain foods. Yet we let him have sweets in moderation almost daily (e.g. one popsicle or a few cookies or pieces of candy after dinner). He gets fast-junk-food a couple of times a month. We have almost all our meals together. None of us walk around eating. Meals, even snacks, are eaten at a table at the same time of day. This discourages the overeating and is a whole lot better for the digestion and assimilation of nutrients.
Son of Healthy Kid. Here are some more about our healthy six year old boy.
We give him choices: Would you like turkey ham or soy dogs?
Apple or grapes?
Pizza or mac-cheese. Hey, they can't all be wholesome, I mean he is a kid. At least those are both low fat cheese products.
We also have no nicotine in any of his environments. There is zero to moderate caffeine and alcohol intake for him to watch. We hardly eat any sweets ourselves. No we're not bizarre fundamentalists, we just want to live to see his kids have kids. And we definitely don't want to see him in any pain that can be avoided.
Healthy Kid Rides Again!. Same 6 year old kid as below.
We all get up early and go to bed early. This way he gets the 10 hours of sleep that children need. Adults however only need 5 and a half hours of sleep. Any adult, no exceptions. I'll go into this in some of my other blogging (look for the three toed sloth). Anyway, after we read him to sleep we get up and party hardy. Or at least party hardly. Hardly that much, but hey, we're parents. Big whoop.
How Healthy is this Kid, Anyway?. We exercise and have encouraged him to choose the recreational exercise of his choice. We let him do fun unstructured workouts of a sort. He toodles all around the pool and tennis court. At hotels, kids can use the exercise equipment since there's no supervision, other than parental. He has a blast with the elliptical, treadmill and stationary bike. With no weight other that the bar, I show him how to row, pull down, leg press etc. All this while Sponge Bob serves crabby burgers to Squidward on the tube. How bad is that kiddies!
Don't go overboard. Great question! I don't have kids yet but when I do, I want to get them started on loving fruits and veggies from a young age. My mother never let me in the kitchen when I was a kid, but I think that encouraging your kids to cook their own food not only teaches them independence, but also an appreciation for what is going into their bodies. I also think that having family activities that ensure everyone gets out and gets their limbs moving is a good idea, because it gets everyone motivated to stay in shape while having fun. I had a mother who was a health freak, but I don't want to go overboard. I don't plan on taking my kids to fast food joints, but indulging every now and then isn't a bad thing. Besides, my mother's puritanical ways often made me eat stuff I really shouldn't have behind her back. It's the reverse psychology thing, I tell you...
Being a fitness professional, as well as a mother of two boys (10 & 12 yrs old), it is imperative to be a role model and walk the walk/talk the talk. I am blessed to not only be a role model myself, but my husband is also active and a healthy eater. Our children have been reading food labels since they were five. They understand the calorie in vs. calorie out philosophy and know that treats are ok, as long as they injest them in moderation. We're also an active family. Our vacations center around skiing, swimming, hiking, etc. and we really don't put alot of 'pressure' on them to 'exercise nor diet'. When a healthy lifestyle is part of what you've grown up with, it's just a common place as washing your hair, or brushing your teeth. The kids just seem to regulate their own eating and physical activity, since it's the way they've been brought up.
All things in moderation. My daughter has just started solids, but I'm going to make a lot of her baby food from fresh organic produce. We will always have fruit and veg around for snacks and meals, and she can have sweets and salty snacks sometimes, but she will understand that these are treats and not an everyday thing. I had a weight problem as a kid and I still have problems, physical and psychological, that have resulted from it. I would do just about anything to keep her from being a chubby kid. I was tortured at school and was always considered the fat girl - it was NOT fun.