Motivating yourself to eat your fruit and veg daily can be a never ending trial. You’re tired, the TV is warm and couch food just sounds easier. While you might you’re getting enough of life’s essentials from your morning apple, your children are following your example. Habitually skipping breakfast and guzzling coffee as a replacement? They’re watching. Ordering Thai because the dishes are dirty and your partner is away? They’re learning. Do you buy your lunch every day or pack a nutritious selection of sandwiches, fruits and nuts for yourself and the kids? Their future food choices depend on your example. It’s a lot of responsibility – being a parent doesn’t just involve feeding your child, but nurturing their health with fresh produce.
The Restaurant Experience
The home menu can be a bit repetitive and boring – takeaway is seductive, revolving around the excitement and variation. Advertising, experience and friend’s houses shape our children’s expectations and food fantasies. Instead of serving up the same old spag bowl (even if it’s really great!) sit down with your kids and partner, and discuss what everybody likes and dislikes. Look up enough recipes to cover a fortnight, considering the likes and dislikes of each family member.
Responsibility and Consequences
Develop a rotating “Head-Chef” roster. The head chef is responsible for motivating, directing and tasting the dish; this is a great way to foster confidence and leadership skills in children, giving shy kids an opportunity to shine. If a chef has behaved particularly well, always reward their effort with a new book or family outing (bike ride, ice-skating etc). Never use food! Assign everybody else a job for the week; peeling vegetables, stirring sauces, combining ingredients.
Turn it Off & Tune In
Turn off the TV; ban mobile phones, work calls, email and tablets. Be aware, everybody will probably hate you for the first couple of weeks. Talk about your day, giving a win and a loss; encourage the kids to join in too. Creating an open network will establish trust and lasting communication, helping you to regain control of your own diet and your family’s relationship with food.
Get Up. Get Out. Live Life
Our world is becoming technologically dependent. We spend most of lives, for work and pleasure, in front of screens and stimuli, pumping down the occasional unhealthy snack. While it may not be possible to completely eradicate potato chips and treats, start introducing nutritious options to accompany a movie. Buy some unsalted, unbuttered popcorn and serve water, flavoured with lemon. Freeze berries into ice-cubes to make their drinks fun and colourful. Most of all, for two or three hours every weekend, get out together. Have a game of cricket, go rollerblading, book into the local rock climbing centre and further your trust in each other, race to the top and sweat your stress out.
Do you need a little help to get started? DDSWQ Medicare Local provides community outreach services, educating parents and giving families the tools they need to make positive choices for the rest of their lives. Nutrition is an ongoing process, don’t let the bulge beat your family.
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