How to help your child eat healthy

FatDad and SonChildhood obesity… you don’t have to be a “rocket scientist” to see it’s an issue. A quick stroll through Wal-Mart or the local public school will be proof enough.

The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) says that “in 2010, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.” (for more facts from CDC on this topic click here).

As a parent I want my children to be healthy in every arena (spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental). I believe that physical health is a key indicator of all other levels of health for this reason… your body is like a car, it takes you wherever you go.

Think about this, if you are sick how alert are you mentally? If you are tired, how alive are you spiritually? If you are hungry, how aware are you relationally?

Before we go on a trip we fill up the tank with gas, check the oil, and make sure the DVD players are working for the kids! We take care of the car!

So why don’t we do the same for our bodies? And more particularly why don’t we do this for our children?

The CDC report I mentioned earlier states that:

The dietary and physical activity behaviors of children and adolescents are influenced by many sectors of society, including families, communities, schools, child care settings, medical care providers, faith-based institutions, government agencies, the media, and the food and beverage industries and entertainment industries.

They point to a number of influencers, but the first influencer in their list is family. Family, as in most things, blazes the path for the way the children will eat…which is a primary function of “caring for the car.”

I have been reading Andrew Weil’s book Eating Well for Optimum Health. While he is a bit more “hippy” in his approach to eating than I am, he has packed a ton of good information into this book.

Towards the end of the book he says something that inspired this whole post… something I have to record for myself and that you might find helpful too. It has to do with helping our children discover the joy and knowledge of healthy eating habits. Read? Here it is:

“Buying and preparing your own food also gives you the chance to influence the health of your whole family for the better. Creating family traditions of healthy eating is one of the most important things you can do for your children, whose food preferences will form early in life and who will be subjected to tremendous pressure from peers and advertising groups to make unhealthy choices.

eating healthyInvolve children in food preparation whenever they show interest; talk with them about food; and help them understand that healthy eating is the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle, that will make them strong, energetic, and attractive. Teach them that even small changes in their diet can make big differences.”

 

As I read the CDC report and thought about what Dr. Weil has written a few things occurred to me:

  • How I eat will be how my children eat. Therefore I should eat healthy.
  • How my children eat will determine much of their overall wellness. Therefore I should place an emphasis on healthy eating.
  • Eating healthy can actually be fun when I engage my children in the process.
  • There are LOTS of voices calling my children to make unhealthy food choices which will have severe consequences (spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically). Therefore I need to be intentional, insistent and creative now in my effort to make healthy eating a preferred way of living for them.

Dad, Mom… we’ve got a great opportunity here to influence our children to eat well, and in doing so influence WAY MORE than just they way they look! Eating well vitalizes their spiritual, relational, emotional, and mental well-being and sets them up for a good and successful life. It’s not everything… but it sure is one thing you can do to help your children get a “leg up” on life! I strongly encourage you to think deeply about this and even begin making some small changes in your kitchen today!

BTW, I’ve written a couple of other posts on this topic:

I’d love to hear from you about this topic! What is the hardest part of helping your children eat healthy? What are you doing now that is working that you can share with the rest of us?

 

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