by Matt Weik
As a parent, I find myself taking responsibility for everything my child does or doesn’t do. From what he eats and drinks, to whether he cleans up his toys, etc. He’s not even two years old yet but he’s already building habits. He is used to eating healthy foods because quite frankly, that’s what we give him. My wife and I made the conscious decision that our son will be introduced to healthy, nutrient dense foods as soon as he was able to take in solids. My biggest question though, is where did society go sideways in regards to children’s nutritional habits these days?
Habits are formed very early in the life of a child and once those negative and/or addictive habits are embedded in their brain, it’s extremely difficult to break them. Therefore, it’s wise to fix potential issues early on.
But ultimately who’s responsible these days for such an alarming amount of kids being overweight and obese? And I don’t want to hear the old “but they are growing so it’s fine” comments. It’s not fine! As parents, we are responsible.
The burden is placed squarely on your shoulders. You can’t blame the government for poor nutritional habits or McDonald’s for having unhealthy food available for your child, marketed as a good healthy meal. It’s not them, it’s you. You’re feeding your kids junk that they shouldn’t be eating! I’m not telling you to be a slave driver and deprive your child of treats, but they should be limited. As a parent you need to be the role model for your child’s behavior and habits. If they see you eating a dozen donuts and washing it down with a Coke, they’ll assume it’s acceptable to do the same.
Make a healthy lifestyle fun and exciting for your child. They will adhere to something better when they not only have fun with it, but also understand why they are making health conscious decisions for themselves. This is also a great way to get the whole family involved in making better health and lifestyle choices. Lead by example. Healthy family meals, family walks after dinner, etc. Get active together!
If you find your family is having issues sticking to healthy food options, I highly recommend you remove the JUNK from the household and throw them away. Remember, it’s hard to make poor food choices when the poor food choices aren’t in front of you.
Make sure you grocery shop when you aren’t hungry and only pick up healthy choices to bring home. Think about every purchase you make and the impact each choice could have on building good habits.
Stop making excuses why your child is overweight and put the responsibility on your shoulders. Lead by example. Your child might not be old enough to make their own decisions, and that’s where you come in. And think about yourself as well. After all, your health directly impacts those around you.