Being a parent isn’t easy – we are regularly bombarded with headlines about obesity. The latest figures suggesting a third of the population is overweight.
It’s wise to be sceptical of statistics and how they can lead us to believe something that within a wider picture may not be as true as it seems as the article suggests.
However, statistics aside, it is true that there are more children who are overweight than ever before and this affects their overall health and wellbeing in the long term.
So it is surely part of their education, both in schools and for home educators who have far more time to devote to it, to educate children in how to look after themselves well and part of this understanding should be developed through knowledge of nutrition, foods, cooking and feeding themselves.
Schools are limited in the time they can devote to any subject and the subject of nutrition is often dealt with in an academic or scientific way leaving kids wondering how this is relevant to them.
So the parental role is essential in supporting learning and understanding of the subject. Parents can provide practical experience, involvement and demonstration in a way schools cannot. And habits formed and demonstrated in the home are what have the biggest influence on children’s diet and lifestyle in the future.
Five ideas which may help:
- Create a whole healthy lifestyle of which food is part, rather than just focussing on weight. This would include exercise, a balance between sedentary and active pursuits, and enjoying eating and getting out and about as a family. Aim to get that healthy approach as a lifestyle habit as inevitable as cleaning your teeth.
- Learn about nutrition together, encourage knowledge, discussion and understanding about how foods affect our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing and how we need variety to keep healthy.
- Involve all the family in mealtimes, meal preparation, decisions about what to eat, when and why, shopping for the food. Cooking together with the kids is another way of involving them.
- Remember the rule that the nearer the food is to its natural state the better it is for you. To engage with this rule inevitably involves cooking at times rather than always reaching for ready-made meals and prepped vegetables. Try new recipes, ingredients and fruit and veg routinely.
- Be food aware. Sugars do us no favours at all but are present in nearly all ready-made meals, drinks and of course sweets. Junk food is addictive. Balance these with DIY meals too. Read labels.
It may help the children to understand that our bodies are the greatest piece of technology we’ll ever own and like with all technology; how we look after them affects our performance, our longevity, our daily wellbeing and our happiness.
Makes sense to look after them well and balance what we put in with the energy we put out as we would with a rechargeable battery. You don’t need a degree in science to understand that equation!