If you’re finding it difficult to sidestep the struggle, Dietitian and Nutritionist Lyndi Polivnick ‘The Nude Nutritionist’ , shares with us her round up of the top 10 good food habits of healthy families. Plus, to keep you in check, she’s shared with us her top tips for sticking them out – so they stay!
Avoid The ‘F’ Word
As a parent you will know that children are like sponges, absorbing everything we say. When we complain about being ‘fat’ or ‘ugly’, children take note.
Teach your children to respect their body – including the imperfections.
Never talk badly about your body in their presence and teach them that every body is incredible – regardless of cellulite, bumps or shape.
Focus On Health – Not Weight
Too often we refer to the calorie content of our food instead of looking at the number of nutrients. When we focus on choosing foods because they are low calorie (or low carb) we can complicate our relationship with food, which can lead to out-of-control and emotional eating.
Teach your children to eat for health, not to gain or lose weight. Ultimately, when you eat with ‘health’ in mind (lots of fruit and veg, less junk food) weight is never an issue.
Introduce The Rainbow
Fruit and vegetables come in five different colours: red, purple/blue, orange, green and white/brown. Each colour contains unique protective, disease fighting chemicals called phytochemicals.
By including a wide variety of colourful food, a meal not only looks more ‘fun’ but it will ensure your kids are getting their nutrients.
To combat fussy eaters or encourage healthier eating in general, create a rainbow chart using coloured stars. For each different coloured food eaten, a coloured star can be added to the chart until the picture of a rainbow is complete!
Switch off the TV
Watching TV during meals can lead to overeating and weight gain.
If you want to better manage your family’s weight, then this simple habit can result in massive benefits.
Turn off the television during main meals. If you can’t follow through with a complete ban, commit to switching off the TV during dinnertime.
Encourage Intuitive Eating
Children are born intuitive eaters with the ability to manage their weight by listening to their appetite. As they grow older, we teach them to ignore hunger and fullness signals – encouraging overeating.
Never force your children to finish everything on their plate. Allow children to intuitively respond to their hunger by eating when they are hungry and stopping when they are full. If they complain of hunger, offer a healthy, ‘everyday’ option. If they refuse, they might just be bored.
Sneak In More Vegetables
Only 1 in 20 Australians eat the recommend five serves of vegetables per day. Eating enough vegetables is arguably the most under-rated health tip.
Make eating vegetables a priority. Serve cut up carrots, celery and cucumber with dip after school. You can also add shredded carrot or blended mushrooms to Bolognese and serve vegetables with every lunch and dinner.
Change Your Language
Often when we talk about health, we refer to ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods. However, using these words can demonise some foods leading to an unhealthy relationship with food. For example, cake is often labeled ‘bad’ but eating birthday cake on your birthday is perfectly healthy!
Skip the unhelpful labels such as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’ and refer to food as a ‘sometimes’ food or ‘everyday’ food. Reinforce the message that everything is good for us in moderation!
Make Meals Fun
To combat fussy eaters or, to simply raise children with a healthy relationship with food, make meal times fun. Food is meant to be a positive experience but it is tough to relax when the TV is blaring or you are fighting over who has not eaten their vegetables yet!
Whilst meal times are an easy time to discipline, save the battle for after the meal. Make sure the whole family understands that meal times are a fight-free zone.
Go Around The Table
Want to raise children who are less stressed, anxious or depressed? Research shows that being actively grateful each day can reduce stress and alleviate anxiety – leading to well-adjusted adults.
At dinner, go around the table asking each family member about the best and hardest part of their day. You will encourage open communication, be more in tune with your children (and partners) emotions and more likely to catch molehills before they become mountains!
Lead By Example
Whilst it may be obvious, leading by example is undoubtedly the most powerful thing you can do to raise a healthy family.
Adopt the advice in this article and never call yourself fat. Focus on health, not weight and eat a rainbow of colourful foods. Switch off the TV as meal times and eat according to your hunger – not the clock. Sneak in extra veggies, use healthy words like ‘everyday’ and ‘sometimes’, make meals fun and use your family time to connect in the fight-free zone.