Changing the Eating Habits of Your Family

The HealthGal Health Guide
  • So what help is available to you if you are willing to recognize an obesity issue in the family?


    First it is important to face the facts.  Does your child know his numbers - height and weight, BMI, waist measurement, blood pressure, and blood work including diabetes, cholesterol screening.  Are their physical signs like a dark ring around their neck which can signal early stage diabetes?


    Can you afford even an initial consultation with a dietician or nutritionist so that you can get a healthier meal plan outline, as well as shopping and cooking tips.  Another option would be to ask the doctor if he can make some initial recommendations or recommend a book or online source.  There are also online "healthy cooking" chats.

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    Can you get your child involved in school sports or after school sports like AYSO soccer, or Little League baseball.  If not, can you play with them outside, bike or skate with them, institute weekend hikes - simply start to get them active.


    Do you belong to a religious institution where you can suggest the possibility of bringing in guest speakers to address family health?  Do you live near a university where there may be graduate students studying nutrition or exercise disciplines who would offer their services free in order to accrue credits towards their degree.  Are there programs at a local hospital or school?


    Now let's talk about what you can do specifically to get started.  


    Consider only shopping with a list, and allow the kid(s) to choose one or two snack choices for the week.  These will be spaced out and given with portion control in mind.  so it's not "no snacks" but rather "let's have treats and also healthier snack options."


    Let the kids help determine the menu for the week including the protein choices like fish, grilled chicken, vegetable chili, turkey meatballs, hard boiled eggs or omelets. 


    Let them come shopping with you to taste test new fruits and vegetables and learn some simple facts.  Most supermarkets are now posting the name and nutrition facts in front of individual produce selections.  math and color lessons can also be accomplished in the produce section.


    If your family is still drinking whole milk, dilute it with skin milk and slowly switch the ratios until you can start buying 1% or skim milk.


    Get the soda out of the frig and out of your lives - there just is no redeeming element to soda.  Try water flavored with juice or a squeeze of lemon or lime or seltzers.  You may have to do it slowly, but remove soda as a dietary choice.


    Serve only salad and fruit salad family style.  If kid's want seconds, those are the two dishes that should be offered if they had good-sized portions of protein, grains, dairy products.


    Try including your family in the preparation of food.  That can mean washing salad greens, cleaning potatoes, setting the table, helping you to pour ingredients.  The best nutrition lessons and discussions can happen when you are all together in the kitchen.


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    Find ways to physically move as a family.  Join a local community center.  Most of us are guilty of allowing our kids too much video gaming time and TV time.  For every hour of that activity there needs to be an hour of physical activity.  If your neighborhood is not safe - dance to the latest tunes in your house - just get moving.  Use the Olympics events to inspire a new family sport.


    Most importantly, use the love you have for your kids to inspire change - without feeling somehow condemned because what you were doing till now wasn't working.  Parenting is truly challenging and complicated and many of us simply know only one way of parenting.  That doesn't make it wrong - it just makes it limited.  Be willing to expand your parenting skills for the health and well-being of your children.

Published On: February 17, 2010