Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My Philosophy on Family Nutrition

Last year, we ate out a lot. I was on the go all the time, and we'd often skip meals, then stop at fast food when we were ravenously hungry and wanting something immediately. It was a stressful thing for me. I know better than to feed my kids and myself that way. But things were hectic and healthy eating wasn't a priority. At 8 months postpartum, I weighed more than I did at 6 weeks postpartum. I knew that it was the way I was eating.

Changing my habits wasn't easy. It took some time. I was frustrated because before getting pregnant, we'd been eating better than we ever had and I felt great. I think Jared managed to go about six months of the year with only having sugar once or twice. He was eating so well, and it was really helping me to share in his enthusiasm and rock solid willpower. During my pregnancy, I was busy with finishing up my degree, and my focus was not on health. But I thought as soon as the baby came, I'd get back into it easily. It didn't happen that way. I got discouraged when I'd fail (eat fast food and other junk) then I'd have these feelings of not being able to do it. I wasn't strong enough.

The first step in getting back to where I want to be (still not there yet, but closer!) was not expecting perfection of myself. If I ate a little bag of chips one day, it didn't mean the whole day was ruined. I learned to give myself a break. I was counting calories, and getting in more exercise, and that helped me to get through the feelings of failure. As I logged my food, I realized I could be doing so much better. I wanted to see more healthy, fresh foods on my food logs. I was seeing progress, and I wanted to get there faster. I wanted to feel healthy like I did before.

Over the last few months, I've had some setbacks, but it has been pretty steady progress toward my goal. I've cut out fast food completely, and don't really crave it anymore. Thank goodness! I try to pack stuff in my little cooler if I am going to be out and running around. I have stuff for the kids. We keep water bottles in the car (not good in summer, but it has been cold here) so we never stop just to get a drink and end up with junk food.

Last week was a big setback! I was pretty emotional one day, and for me, being emotional means I eat. And if there is bad food in the house, I eat it. Because those are the moments when I just don't care about food.

But this week we are back! We purged the house of the Easter candy remnants. And we are ready to eat well again.

All this background info is to help you understand my food philosophy. I feel like feeding our kids healthy food is every bit as important as buckling them into their car seats or monitoring their media.

Over 15% of children from ages 5 to 19 are overweight. The risk of a child becoming obese is one in three. And the risks of being obese as a child and an adult are enormous. Obese individuals have much higher risks of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. All things that are prevalent in my family.

As a mom, I want to do everything possible to try to prevent those tragic diseases from hurting my family. We can't prevent everything, but healthy eating makes a huge difference in our quality of life. I feel a personal responsibility to be a gatekeeper regarding the kinds of foods that enter our home, and the choices that are offered here. I don't want my kids to have to choose between Captain Crunch and oatmeal--I know they don't know enough at this young age to make wise food choices regularly. Heck, I don't know if I would choose oatmeal if Captain Crunch was right there in the pantry. I feel I am also responsible to teach my kids good nutrition through example. To help them to like nutritious food, and to help them see where the good food choices lead, and where the not so good food choices lead.

I was watching the Biggest Loser a few weeks ago and was really validated by one of the major points of that particular episode. Jay and Mark went home to visit their families. The families had all kinds of junk food around which the children were consuming. Both of the dads were visibly upset to see the types of foods that were standard practice around their homes. They had experienced what it was like to be overweight, and how difficult it was to lose it, and they wanted better for their kids. They vowed to change the way their families ate. They saw what would happen to their children in the future if they were not taught good nutrition.

I really liked that episode, because I think it sheds light on how parents can influence their families for the better, and how kids need direction and support just as adults do. I am a firm believer that a healthy diet is important for the whole family, not just the moms, dads, or whomever is trying to lose weight. I believe that feeding the kids junk foods while the parents eat healthy sends the message to kids that eating healthy is all about weight control. They can eat all the hot dogs, mac and cheese or fruit snacks they want, because they are not overweight.

I know that as my kids grown older, they will make their own choices and decide how to feed their families. I hope that my influence will direct them and help them to remain healthy throughout their lives.

My mom was raised in a home where the smell of a cake baking got her out of bed in the morning. My sweet, sweet grandma loved to have treats! My mom really didn't have much healthy food at home. It was hard for her to be a chubby kid, and she decided to change. She learned all she could about healthy eating, and has raised all of her children to have a good appreciation for healthy foods. She'd often praise me for eating a chunk of cabbage as a snack when I was a kid. Growing up, there weren't many tastier options! We had healthy food, or healthy food. If there were something more appealing, I am sure I would have picked that instead. I know that her decision to change has affected generations. My kids are healthier because she changed. I appreciate that, and I hope that I can continue to teach my kids so that we can all have a better life.


kelly said...

thanks for letting us know you're normal and imperfect too. i'm encouraged :)

lisapow said...

Awesome! I love it! You are a rockstar!

Adhis said...

I've heard so many people say "but my kids don't like vegetables." So what?! Some kids don't like to look both ways before crossing the street or don't like wearing their seatbelts, but a good parent still teaches them those things to PROTECT them. It's the same with food.

I don't like filing my taxes, but I like it better than getting audited.

Keri said...

Thanks so much sheree, this blog is great! I have recently tried to do the same with no out to eat and I have gotten rid of Fruit snacks all together! I also have done the deceptively delicious for about a month and I am loving it. Adding healthy natural ingredients in my kids food makes me feel better about what we are eating. I am going to do a post about it next time I do my purees because I just love it! thanks for the inspiration and recipes!!

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