I had the pleasure of being on the KLAV radio show, “Double Take” last Friday. Our topic was childhood obesity and much of the focus was on school programs that are doing their best to get children active and moving. There were two gym teachers from local schools that gave some great tips on things kids can do at home to get some exercise, even if they don’t have an opportunity to get outside. Five suggestions included: hula hoop, jump rope, dancing, bean bag exercise competitions, and Wii fit.
All of those were great suggestions, but I’d like to add a few suggestions on how parents and children can get more involved in living a healthy and active lifestyle. I have a personal trainer who pushes me beyond what I believe are my limits every time we work out. But we also discuss that, all the hard work at the gym is meaningless if I don’t follow up with good nutrition. In fact, nutrition is 70% of the weightloss puzzle.
Those of you who know me, know that I’m constantly reiterating how important it is to develop a healthy, positive relationship with your child. (Those of you who don’t know me, get used to hearing it!) You can make getting and living healthy a family affair by:
Involve kids in menu planning for the week and even looking up healthy recipes online to try.
Make shopping lists together. Go shopping and have the kids help find the items in the store.
Cook together. What a great way to enjoy meaningful conversation and interaction– while preparing a healthy meal together. Depending on their ages, kids can help measure, mix, and get involved in the process. You can practice some math in measuring or figuring out how much of an ingredient you’ll need to yield a particular number of servings, etc. Cooking can also be a great lesson in science–observing how ingredients change their form when cooking or when combined with other ingredients, etc.
Children get excited about trying something new when you get excited about trying something new. So, get a bit adventurous. Research healthy recipe versions of your favorites and try them out or make it a point to try a new vegetable or fruit. Get the whole family out of the comfort zone.
Parenting is a tough job under any circumstances, and you may be pressed for time. Many parents find themselves giving in to the time crunch of balancing life, work, and family, by giving in to the drive-in, take-out menu, or highly processed, pre-packaged convenience foods from the grocery store. It’s so easy to fall into that trap, but I know from personal experience that the quality of your nutrition equals the quality of your daily energy and life experience. What works for me is making time on the weekend to do some planning, then shopping for the week, cleaning, chopping, cooking, and storing my meals for the week into appropriate portion sizes. When I’m tempted to hit the drive-thru on the way home, I remind myself I have great-tasting, healthy food at home that I can heat up or prepare in less time than I’ll spend idling in the drive-thru line.
The best part of cooking together as a family, is eating together as a family and sharing the day’s events. It’s a great opportunity to turn off the cell phones, iPods, television, and every other interruption and focus on each other.