Confused about what is a healthy diet for you and your child? Make healthier choices as a family!!
Are you confused with all the nutritional advice these days? Especially at the start of the new year, it’s like every social media platform and website is pushing a different diet or exercise plan to lose weight and live better!!!
When I was growing up it used to be; eat small portions at regular intervals throughout the day, this will speed up your metabolism and help you manage your weight, now it’s intermittent fasting where you have an eating window to consume your daily calories and you fast for the other time, the most common is the 16 hours (fast) – 8 hours (feast) timing. Two completely different philosophies on how to approach the same topic.
I think the most important thing that people need to do is to find out what works best for you and your child and what is realistic to maintain and adapt for the future.
It’s a no brainer that food with a high sugar content is damaging to and will result in gaining body fat. Sugar (Glucose) is stored as fat if you do not use it!!
It’s very important to identify the foods and drinks to try and avoid and to understand which foods need to be more present in your diet. After working with children over the last 15 years, I have been shocked to see what some parents put in their children’s lunch boxes or provide them for snacks. Food with zero nutritional benefits. I’m not sure if it’s parents taking the easy option but I assume if this is what they feed their children then their own diet must be terrible too!!
Below I have identified a few simple steps to follow to start eating healthy as a family!! Remember you can have treats, but they should not be the bulk of your diet!!! If you start this, you will become a healthier family and your children will thank you in the future!!
- Guide your family’s choices rather than dictate foods. Make a wide variety of healthful foods available in the house. This practice will help your children learn how to make healthy food choices. Leave the unhealthy choices like chips, soda, and juice at the grocery store. Serve water with meals.
- Encourage your children to eat slowly. A child can detect hunger and fullness better when they eat slowly. Before offering a second helping or serving, ask your child to wait at least 15 minutes to see if they are truly still hungry. This will give the brain time to register fullness. Also, that second helping should be much smaller than the first. And if possible, load that second helping with more veggies
- Eat meals together as a family as often as possible. Try to make mealtimes pleasant with conversation and sharing, not a time for scolding or arguing. If mealtimes are unpleasant, children may try to eat faster to leave the table as soon as possible. They then may learn to associate eating with stress.
- Involve your children in food shopping and preparing meals. These activities will give you hints about your children’s food preferences, an opportunity to teach your children about nutrition, and provide your kids with a feeling of accomplishment. In addition, children may be more willing to eat or try foods that they help prepare.
- Plan for snacks. Continuous snacking may lead to overeating, but snacks that are planned at specific times during the day can be part of a nutritious diet, without spoiling a child’s appetite at meal times. You should make snacks as nutritious as possible, without depriving your children of occasional chips or cookies, especially at parties or other social events. Have healthy snacks within reach and at eye level.
- Set some family goals. Perhaps restricting desserts to weekends and only having sodas on weekends. Making sure water bottles are empty before dinner time. to encourage hydration
- Discourage eating meals or snacks while watching TV. Try to eat only in designated areas of your home, such as the dining room or kitchen. Eating in front of the TV may make it difficult to pay attention to feelings of fullness, and may lead to overeating.
- Encourage your children to drink more water. Overconsumption of sweetened drinks and sodas has been linked to increased rates of obesity in children.
- Try not to use food to punish or reward your children. Withholding food as a punishment may lead children to worry that they will not get enough food. For example, sending children to bed without any dinner may cause them to worry that they will go hungry. As a result, children may try to eat whenever they get a chance. Similarly, when foods, such as sweets, are used as a reward, children may assume that these foods are better or more valuable than other foods. For example, telling children that they will get dessert if they eat all of their vegetables sends the wrong message about vegetables.
- Make sure your children’s meals outside the home are balanced. Find out more about their school lunch program, or pack their lunch to include a variety of foods. Also, select healthier items when dining at restaurants.
- Pay attention to portion size and ingredients. Read food labels and limit foods with trans fat. Also, make sure you serve the appropriate portion as indicated on the label.
Will is one of the founders of Sport4Kids (now ProActiv Sports) in Hong Kong and was the driving force behind bringing it to Singapore in 2014. Will obtained a degree in Sports Science and Health, from Dublin City University and has vast experience coaching children and adults of all level and abilities. Will is experienced at coaching in a wide variety of sports with a particular interest in Soccer, Basketball and Gaelic Football. He is also a very keen sportsman having represented Ireland in underage basketball and Gaelic Football.