Food decisions in former days were made a lot closer to the kitchen table. Think how much more common eating on the run, eating away from home is today, and you’ve seen one reason that obesity is striking more and more of us, and starting younger and younger. The time to make healthy eating a basic life skill is urgently upon us.
Setting Examples for Life
The way our children see us eating is having a powerful influence on them, whether we realize it or not. Near the top of most lists of what we can do to help our children eat healthy is the fact that we, as parents, are examples.
And this example we set is vital, because the less we insist, the more likely most children are to follow along eventually. A tip common to most lists is not to force the issue. Keeping healthy foods in the house and junk food outside for special occasions, and introducing new goods gradually are among the other tips we see most often. Successful parents serve the vegetables, but don’t demand that they be finished.
Yes, desperate measures or over-aggressive attitudes are not the answer. When families make food a battleground, it is self-defeating; just another price we pay for our cultural nutrition problem. Positive examples and gentle communication work a great deal better.
Playing for High Stakes Indeed
Strategizing for our children’s healthy eating is a priority worth setting. With 17% of children suffering from obesity and 40% of their calories coming from sugars and fats, some of the consequences of bad nutrition may be in your children’s lives right now. Others – such as heart disease and diabetes – may be just a matter of time. The stakes could not be higher.
Unfortunately, our emptiest calories can be the most attractive. Sugar and fat set up their own kinds of metabolism, and it can feel a lot like addiction. In urban environments, the ready availability of easy meals and expedient snacks on the run carries the same threat a different way. A glance around a bus or subway car reveals that keeping children going in the city often involves a bag of chips.
Yes, the simple availability of food caused nutrition to stop being the biggest problem in the U.S. about a half century ago. Although the persistence of hunger in our nation today is not to be ignored, it is not the issue that most threatens most children. Empty calories and unhealthful ingredients are the issues most families face today.
We are focused on family health at Global Family Medicine, so for help or reinforcement in planning and providing a healthy food environment for your children, just call us at 843-815-6468.