By: Kristen Clifford
All my life I have struggled with my weight. Mainly this is because I have never quite figured out how to respect food for what it is…fuel. Since I was a child, I’ve always used food as everything, except for fuel. When I was sad – it was a pick me up, when I was bored – it gave me something to do, when I felt lonely – it provided me with company. All these unhealthy views on food, plus my lack of nutrition knowledge, lead me to where I am today.
I realized shortly after my twins were born in October of 2010, that I was heading down a very dangerous path. I bit the bullet and took control of my health. I wanted to set an example for my kids, I never wanted to see them struggle with food or their weight the way that I have. I’m happy to say that in the last 15 months I have begun to develop these healthy habits and have now lost 114 pounds.
I’ve decided that I need to teach my children how to respect food, and how to use it properly. Food is not a reward or a punishment in our house, it’s just food. I try not to focus too largely on food or how it relates to weight. We mainly talk about health, and which foods are healthy and help us grow big and strong.
Some of the main things I try to focus on to teach my kids healthy eating habits are:
1. We don’t eat all day long, we have a set schedule to eat on. We have breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Between each meal they are allowed 1 snack each. They are not allowed to snack continually.
3. I try to get them involved with picking out healthy foods. I let my oldest pick out a special fruit and vegetable each week that she would like to snack on. She loves picking them out. To a kid, the produce section is full of so many colorful foods to chose from.
4. I also let my oldest get involved with preparing our dinners. I’ve found that if she has worked just as hard as me to prepare the meal, then she’s going to want to eat her masterpiece.
5. The main thing I try to do is lead by example. If they see me eating constantly, then they will want to eat constantly. If they see me eating chocolate and chips, then they will want chocolate and chips. I try to eat lots of healthy foods. I do not force food on them, I put the vegetables on their plate, I don’t make them eat them. I have learned the less attention I draw to the healthier foods, the more likely they are to eat them.
Overall we try not to dwell on food, I don’t want their lives to revolve around food and it’s consumption. We also never mention words like “fat,” “overweight,” “skinny'” or “diet.” Those words do not exist in our house. The only words that we use are “healthy” or “unhealthy.” I also try not to focus on the unhealthy food. If they want ice cream, then that’s fine, we go and get ice cream. I don’t keep ice cream in the house, but we will go out as a family and all enjoy together. Maintaining a healthy life is all about balance, it’s not all healthy food, and no unhealthy food, it’s about finding the right balance between them.