Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Be a Role Model

When my kids get up in the morning, they spend 10 minutes meditating before greeting me lovingly and politely and sipping a mug of hot water with lemon.

After getting dressed, they happily eat a bowl of organic Greek yogurt with berries, pumpkin seeds and beet juice powder. Then they pack up their lunches for school, made up of bento boxes full of fresh fruits, veggies and legumes for protein.

At dinner time, whatever healthy meal I place on the table, they gleefully eat, only after thanking me profusely for the time and effort I put into making it.


Just because I am a health nut, doesn't mean this is what it looks like in our home! I wish, but no.

The girls are impossible when it comes to food, just like most kids, and could do a lot better when it comes to nutrition.

We are going through a particularly tough time right now because suddenly a lot of kid-friendly foods they used to love, they now hate. Little A won't touch veggie dogs and has lost her taste for eggs. Big A doesn't like pasta anymore nor tuna nor smoked salmon. One day she likes eggs the next day they make her burst into tears. Neither of them like tacos. Also off the list now is miso soup, chicken noodle soup and fish sticks. Like WTF?

Every day its a surprise what foods they will want to eat and what will make them shriek in horror. I often can't even find something both will agree on as their tastes are so different. Preparing food for them is a nightmare!

Their nutrition lacks in all sorts of ways. Little A eats hardly any vegetables, and Big A eats far too many carbs, and is very stubborn about protein.  They both eat way too much junk food, which always seems to be in abundance everywhere they go (I'm sure you've heard my rants about this already!).

You'd think I would be freaking out about all this, and truthfully, a few years ago, I would have. But I've realized 2 things: (1) Its not a battle I can win through force, and (2) The best thing we can do, as parents, is model the desired behaviour.

As a parent, what you do is far more important than what you say, when it comes to teaching behaviours and habits. If you smoke, don't think telling your children not to start smoking will actually work. The same goes for exercise and healthy eating. You gotta walk the walk.

Most of my counselling clients who need weight loss support grew up in homes with parents who, if they weren't overweight themselves, did not model healthy behaviours. They didn't exercise and they served and ate mostly prepared foods. This does not set up a child for success when it comes to health and weight management!

There is a strong focus on the importance of health and fitness in this house, without any talk of weight or body shape.  The girls see Adam and I exercising daily and paying attention to our nutrition intake. They see me cooking and baking from scratch and watch us fill the fridge with fresh fruit and veggies from the market twice weekly. I am comforted that research shows this is one of the most effective ways to encourage children towards a healthy lifestyle.

I am prepared for it to get worse before it gets better. Already, they are discovering that they can take their allowance money and spend it anyway they want, including on candy. As much as this pains me to watch, I am reminded that I did exactly the same thing at their age and lived to tell the tale. As they get older and their freedoms increase, I can only hope I have given them the confidence, knowledge and tools to make good choices. As a parent, that's really all you can do!

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