Tips from the Program
All the Tips included here are based on extensive research on the most recent clinical findings and recommendations.
Honesty is a must.
It’s difficult but crucial to recognize the problem. Buy-in from both the parents and the children is absolutely necessary. If a child isn’t ready, perhaps it’s best to wait before attempting to make significant changes.
Awareness is key.
Pay attention to where and when you eat and what exactly you put into your children’s bodies. Become an informed consumer. If the list of ingredients is unpronounceable or too long to remember, don't feed it to your child.
Eat family meals.
Studies have shown that having family meals can make an enormous difference. Be sure to make the meals pleasant, not a time to talk about difficult issues and certainly not a time for conflict over food. Sit back and enjoy the food and the company and don’t stress out about what or how much your children are eating.
Change your habits.
This is essential. Habits are very powerful and changing them can be difficult. But studies show that once families can find ways to make those first steps, they can and do create new habits.
Take the stairs.
Walking stairs, particularly up stairs, is great exercise and can be easily slipped into your daily routine. Often it takes about the same amount of time as the elevator and the benefits really add up.
Don’t park so close.
Instead of driving around to find the closest parking spot, head to the corner of the parking lot – where you’ll find plenty of spaces and you’ll also give yourself the benefit of a few extra steps.
Assess your own family’s situation, apart from what you hear and read about everyone else. Consume advice selectively in light of your own, personal needs. What are your own biggest challenges? Where are the areas where you can most easily make changes?
“Trade up” your habits.
Whenever possible try to make small substitutions in more healthful directions. Replace soda with juice, juice with fresh fruit or water. Replace sitting with standing, standing with walking, walking with running. Any move in the right direction is a good one.
Add fruits and veggies everywhere.
Studies have shown that adding extra veggies can cut total caloric consumption and improve health. It’s easy to put out some carrot sticks or apple slices before and during a meal. Slip in some extra veggies with soups, sandwiches, and main dishes - whether home-cooked, frozen, or take-out. Don’t expect your kids to make a beeline for them but they are more likely to start eating them the more they encounter them.
Bring your kids into the kitchen.
Involve them as much as possible in food preparation. This offers a wonderful venue for informal health education. And there’s an added benefit: When we prepare food all of our senses become engaged. We see it, touch it, and inhale its aroma. Studies have shown that this starts to trigger the satiety sensation in our brain well before we even take a bite – so that by the time we actually eat it, we feel full sooner and end up consuming less.
Relinquish your membership in the Clean Plate Club.
Resist the temptation to ask your kids to clean their plates. What they leave on their plates is probably what their bodies don’t need. You wouldn’t make them clean the plate if the food were poisonous. It might actually be more beneficial if that food went into the garbage than into their bodies. (Better yet, put it into the refrigerator for later.)
In this world of super-sized portions the only way to get your money’s worth and not overeat at restaurants is to make a habit of taking home the excess food you are served. That way you get two (or more) meals for the price of one and eating out need not mean over-eating.
Be forgiving to your child and yourself.
If either of you slips up in trying to adopt more healthful behaviors – and you both will – remind yourself that it’s part of the process and that being hard on yourselves will probably just make things worse.
Get involved in the big picture.
Join forces for healthful changes in your child’s school and community. Find out what food and activity options are now available and what changes you can help to bring about. Change will only happen if enough of us work to create it.