Hi friends! Happy hump day! I hope your day is off to an awesome start!
This past weekend, I spent a lot of time at home and with my parents. On Thursday morning my mom and I were driving to take a hot yoga class and we talked about something that I still can’t get off of my mind.
We started talking about what it takes to break the cycle of a family that has generations of unhealthy eating habits in its history and what it takes to create a healthy family.
That sounds confusing so let me explain.
(Let me first note that there are CERTAINLY exceptions to everything I am about to say so please do not take anything personally.)
Growing up, most children tend to be thin and free of self inflicted health issues (see note above). Most children eat a little bit of this and a little bit of that, get their exercise in by chasing down their brother or sister and wake up the next day to do it all over again. They feel good and are healthy, thriving and growing regardless of what is served at breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Pop-tarts for breakfast, chicken fingers and fries for lunch, chips for an afternoon snack, a cheeseburger and fries for dinner and a bowl of ice cream before bed, this child knows no differently and actually learns to love this kind of food.
But that’s not the problem. The problem is that this child is creating habits that won’t just disappear as soon as he gets older and notices that his metabolism might be slowing down a notch, he works a job that requires 10 hours of sitting in a desk and he is just too tired to make a healthy meal (that he really doesn’t want anyway), much less squeeze in a little bit of exercise.
But kids aren’t the ones to blame and neither are you because you were once a kid that was taught these unhealthy habits too.
So how do we change this? How can we stop this cycle? How can we raise children that love healthy foods so that they will turn into adults that love healthy foods? Or how can we show our parents that it’s never too late to change?
- We must first decided that WE are the change. We, meaning you and I, are the only ones that can stop the cycle that is killing so many of our loved ones, considering heart disease is the number one killer of Americans, which is a disease that is greatly influenced by our diet.
- We must recognize that there is a need for change within our family.
- We then must change ourselves. Actions speak louder than words my friends. What do you think the first question people ask when they hear someone has lost x amount of weight? “How did you do it?” Others will trust you once they see what you’re doing is working. (But remember, weight isn’t the only marker of health; it’s much harder to spot a man with heart disease walking down the street, isn’t it?) When you feel well, have ample energy and an inner and outer glow, others will notice and they will want to know more about what it is you are doing.
- We must provide encouragement, positivity and reason. No one wants to be told they “have to eat like this” or “have to eat like that” or that “have to do this kind of exercise” or “do that kind of exercise.” We have to remember that we are all human and have different wants, likes and needs. Respecting one another while providing a positive influence is absolutely possible.
- We must involve everyone in the process. No man left behind! While some will be resistant to change, others will jump right in. Talk about food, what you are eating, where it came from, what it is doing for your body. Mom shouldn’t be the only one at the grocery store or the only one in the kitchen. Make it a family affair.
- We must sit down for family meals. You’ve heard this before, but it’s true: more than just eating goes on while the family sits down for a meal together. Healthy habits are being formed, we are learning to eat slower allowing for proper digestion; we are learning that it’s not only about the food but the conversation and company too.
- We must remember that it is a process and that no one is perfect. Don’t expect to change your family over night, start small and make one tiny change at a time. Lifelong changes happen slowly.
We must also remember that just like children are “trained” to eat their green beans they are “trained” to eat french fries. If you give someone something consistently over and over again, eventually their going to like it, and how could they not? Fried + fat + salt, what’s not to like? What if green beans were served as much as french fries or grapes as much as cookies, don’t you think it would seem more normal to snack on green beans or grapes instead of fries and cookies?
Healthy eating should be the norm not the outlier, let us be the positive change that our families need.
What is one thing that you can do to help change your family for the better today? Please share so that maybe it provides an idea for someone else!
I hope you have a wonderful day!