My top ten tips to hep your family eat better
I am passionate about providing information for families to flourish and do the best for their bodies. Healthy eating should be a way of life for the whole family and children should be taught about the role that food plays in their bodies to give them energy and protect them against diseases. Instilling healthy eating habits in our children should be done from as early as possible and adopted throughout the whole family. Children learn best from their parents.
Here are my top ten tips for healthy families.
1. Eat together.
This is the by far the most important. Whilst working with many toddlers over the years I have seen that when the parents eat a variety of foods so do the children and you tend to have less fussy eating children. I had a mom who hated tomatoes but always offered them to her kids yet none of them ate them because they had never seen her eat them. It may be difficult to eat with your children around supper time but try at least one meal of the day (breakfast is usually the easiest) or lunch on the weekends so they can understand the importance that eating plays as part of your day.
2. Limit screen time
More time spent watching TV means less physical activity for your children. It is recommended that children have no more than 2 hours a day of screen time a day that includes cellphones, ipads and computers. Studies show more TV time is linked with a higher risk for obesity.
3. 10000 steps a day
Physical activity is so important however it doesn't need to be high impact sports. Children need to do approx 12500 steps a day and adults 10000 a day. This can be achieved by making small changes like parking further away from shopping centre entrance and walking or going for an afternoon stroll with the kids or walk park run with your children on a Saturday.
4. Avoid grazing
Children need to understand the importance of having set times for meals and snacks otherwise they will adopt a grazing mentally which can lead to eating problems later in life as they don't listen to their hunger cues. Ensure that you as a parent try to follow a similar pattern to set an example for your kids by eating regular meals and snacks.
5. Eat a rainbow
It may sounds basic but to ensure you are getting all your necessary vitamins and minerals try to include different colours on your families plate I. e instead of chicken, butternut and carrot for dinner why not try chicken, butternut and green beans.
6. Watch fruit juice
Whilst working overseas many of my clients believed that if they gave their families 5 glasses of fruit juice a day it would count towards their 5 a day. Adults and children should have no more than 150mls of fruit juice a day and only give 100% fruit juice.
7. Spend time in the kitchen
Yes I know lives are busy and stressful and sometimes convenience is key but when you cook your own meals you have control over what goes in your food. Ready made foods may contains higher amounts of salt, sugar and bad fats. You don't need to be Jamie Oliver to prepare meals for your family, simple dishes like grilled chicken with brown rice and veg or grilled fish with roasted veg and roast butternut. I always make a stir-fry when I am in a rush as you can buy the prepacked veg which have nothing added to them and then just add your meat of choice and use herbs and garlic and ginger to add flavour.
8. Know your food:
Following on from number 7, know what is in your food as well by reading food labels. This is the best way to make healthier choices for your family by being able to compare product A to product B and which ones has less salt or sugar per 100g.
9. Biscuit Watch
Whilst snacks are important in an adults and child's daily eating, biscuits often tend to creep to the top of the snack list as they are readily available and of course taste nice. Biscuits are classified as a treat food and so should not be given everyday to your child. Even basic biscuits without fillings or covered in chocolate can be high in sugar. Adults watch out for those morning rusks too as 2 or 3 might seem like nothing much but they can be laden with sugar.
10. Enjoy your food
I see young children coming into my practice wanting to go on diets and worried about eating and the way they look. Eating should be be social and fun and not something children avoid as they are concerned about their body image. Make eating fun at home and talk to your kids about the important of healthy eating not because of their weight but because its keeps your body functioning well and prevents diseases. Organise picnics out or get the kids cooking with you so they learn to be excited about eating healthily.