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Avoiding obesity: Teaching your child how to live a healthy life

November 21, 2011

It may be easier than you think to teach your child how to live a healthy life. Of course, we have to teach our kids about good-for-you foods and encourage fun activities, but more importantly, we have to walk the walk. Children are imitators, and leading by example plays a big role in how they learn.

Consider this: Are you stuck on the diet bandwagon?

You go on a diet, but what happens when you “come off the diet”? What we know is that diets don’t work. Diets send the wrong message when the focus is on weight or the size of your jeans. But health and enjoying a wholesome life matters more.

What does work is compassion, starting where you are, and making small changes toward health. Adopting healthy habits take time and a supportive approach. It begins from within, from loving yourself, and choosing that honoring your body is the best way to respond to health.

It’s about balance. It’s okay to have a cupcake or real soda from time to time! Yeah, I said it, no foods are on the naughty list. Normal eating is nurturing and about making steps toward health instead of creating an obsession with food, calories, and the number on the scale… (which often happens with dieting). Eating for health is not rigid, it’s flexible.

It’s about eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are satisfied; not stuffed. Many times our signal to stop eating is when the plate is clean, or when we are done socializing. In reality, this is disrespectful. It is not honoring to our bodies, and it often contributes to an unhealthy weight.

Our relationship with food trickles down to our children, we are their best role models. Instead of enforcing the “clean your plate” mantra, allow your kids to honor their hunger and fullness signals which reinforces positive behaviors. As parents, teachers, and role models, it is our responsibility to provide the food and atmosphere in which they eat, but their responsibility to eat until they are satisfied.

I understand, you may be concerned about your child’s health, however, if we stop undermining our children and allow them to trust their body’s natural abilities to meet its own needs; that will be far more effective. When you engage in a power struggle about food and weight with your child, no one will win.

So instead jumping on the diet bandwagon, why not start making small changes toward a healthier you? Your family will learn from those healthy habits and take joy in a wholesome relationship with food.