Lessons I’ve Learned, Part 3: The Children Are Our Future

I have been overweight all of Maddie and Mia’s life. It is getting better and they have seen me lose 50 pounds but one thing I have learned is that children do what their parents do and sometimes with much struggle they do what we say as well.

One of my biggest reasons for making better food decisions and making fitness a high priority in my life is so that my daughters grow up surrounded by that influence.

I read different reports but in the book Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. there are some staggering estimations:

– It is estimated that over 25% of school aged children in America are obese.
– An overweight child develops heart disease earlier in life.
– Mortality data suggests that being overweight during early adult life is more dangerous than a similar degree of heaviness later in adult life.
– The #1 health problem in the United States is obesity.
– If our current trend continues, by the year 2030 all adults in the United States will be obese.
– People whose parents are obese have a tenfold increased risk of being obese.

I think you get the point.

With all those odds stacked against my kids I have to work harder than any parents in generations past to make sure that my children have fighting chance against obesity and a life filled with illness.

But before I started my own healthy journey, I started to realize quickly that when you start at a very young age your children will eat what you put in front of them for the most part. Maybe there are certain things they don’t like but as the parent I was the one that encouraged the healthy choices…. if I didn’t buy gold fish crackers, my kids would be forced to eat apples for a snack. If I didn’t buy sugary yogurt tubes, my kids would have to eat bananas as a snack. If I didn’t buy ‘chicken nuggets’ (what is a nugget anyways) then my kids would have to eat real chicken breast.

Early on I taught my children that snacks are healthy food that fuel our bodies and help us grow healthy. And that pudding, yogurt tubes, gold fish crackers, graham crackers, chips, cookies, ice cream, fruit snacks and juice are NOT snacks. They are ‘treats’ and are ‘every once in a while’ foods.

Now that they are a little older we talk about commercials on T.V. The commercials that try to get your kids to think ‘it’s part of a healthy breakfast’ or this juice is a complete source of vitamin C…. or any of the other bull crap that they are brainwashing our children with. They tell me when they think that that information doesn’t sound right and we work together on making healthy choices.

Now don’t get me wrong, we all love goodies just like anyone else and we do have them, however, I am hoping that my children grow up knowing that fruits, vegetables, and whole food are staples and not packaged convenience items that are almost suffocating people whereever they go now a days.

I know it can be difficult to battle with the little ones because they are pretty powerful when it comes to getting what they want. But here are some things that I have learned and have worked for me in staying ahead of the battle:

1.) Educate, educate, educate. Make sure your children know what they are eating. Read the ingredients to them. If you can’t even pronounce the words in the ingredients…. they are gonna ask you ‘what is that’ and you can remind them that food companies use all kinds of processing agents to make food have a certain color, a certain taste and a certain shelf life and that those things are very bad to put in our bodies.

And on the flip side of that, explain to them the good things that whole foods do for our bodies. Get creative because kids are a tough sell.

Teach your children about serving sizes. Most of them don’t realize that the bag of chips they get from the store is usually 2 or 3 servings. Or a whole bowl of ice cream is 3 or 4 servings….

2.) Make deals. I mean you are master of your domain and if you just do a clean sweep of your house and get rid of all the crap then that is up to you, but you might have some crazy troops on your hands! So start out slowly. Have the kids pick one junk item that you always purchase that they will trade in this week for a real fresh fruit or a cleaner version. Do this once a week or every other week until you have cleaned out all the junk.

And in the meantime, if they want a ‘treat’ item, limit it or make a deal that if they drink a whole glass of water and have some clean foods then they can have some of what they want. Ususally by the time they finish the water and the healthy snack they have forgotten about the treat….(usually but not always 🙂

3.) Encourage your children to be active. Put a limit on T.V. time. Find an activity that you can do together. Search for a sport they are compatible with.

4.) Set a good example. Just do the best you can and nevermind how things have been in the past. Today is a new day and we have many days to come….. Show your children that starting now, eating clean healthy food is a priority because you want to be healthy and feel better and that you make exercise a priority in your life because you are important to you! And that you want to be stronger and healthier!

Chances are if you develop these new habits, make them a high priority and stay consistent the rest of the family will follow along!

I would love to hear your comments below on how you are helping your children make good choices and how your new healthy journey has helped your family!
Your friend,
Tiffany Larson

P.S. If you need help with your fitness or nutrition you can get all that and more at Napa Boot Camp or Sonoma Boot Camp or St. Helena Boot Camp. Check out Summer Slim Down, it starts soon and you can save $60!


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