Helping To Build Healthy Habits in Our Children

As a child my mother was on the Pritkin Diet (which as near as I can figure was considered a fairly radical method of weight control at that time), of which the basic tenets were low-fat, low sugar, low carb, and lots of fruits, vegetables, and protein (mainly from chicken and fish) combined with a commitment to exercise daily.

The result of such strict adherence to the above was that I grew up in a fairly healthy home. I wasn’t offered sodas or sugary drinks (water only), nor was there much opportunity to overindulge in cakes or candies (such items were reserved for holidays and summers in the city with grandma). If I asked for a lollipop, I got a carrot with a radish on top (yes…seriously).

My mom’s way of life was geared towards moderation and filling the body, with only foods that made her body operate at its most optimal level.

I share this to say, good food and eating habits often start early. To this day, I don’t care for candy, rarely indulge in cakes or pastries, and shun all sodas and sugary drinks in favor of my favorite drink—water. My philosophies about food were built at the age of five and have never left.

Today, as a mother myself, I do many of the same things my mother did with me. I don’t allow my children to drink sodas, eat many sweets, or partake in more than the occasional piece of candy.
I serve as much organic and locally grown fruits and vegetables as possible, limit their red meat intake, and offer increasingly more vegetarian dishes (if only to introduce their food palette to more diverse eating options). 

While I would never criticize or judge the way any parent decides to raise their child, I do believe that the role we play as parents is one that is as much about building good health habits as it is about building good character. And, in a society that has increasingly seen a trend towards childhood obesity, we have to start finding ways to educate our children about how their bodies operate and what the pleasures and perils of certain foods can mean for them as individuals.

I was reading an article the other day and came across some disturbing statistics:

  • 17 percent of children aged 2-19 are obese
  • 90 percent of elementary schools eliminated daily physical education 
  • 40 percent of African American and Hispanic Children are obese
  • 7.5 hours a day is spent by the average teenager using entertainment media like TV, computers, video games, cell phones and movies.

More and more these days the physical and mental health of our children will fall on the actions we take as parents and community leaders and we cannot take the above issues lightly as obesity not only effects the quality of life for those who are struggling with its effects, but to society as a whole as well.

My goal where my children and those I love are concerned is to have the food conversation, not in a judgmental or condemning way but, in a way that makes them more informed about how they make their choices so that they can, hopefully one day, do so on their own.

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4 thoughts on “Helping To Build Healthy Habits in Our Children

  1. Ally Garner says:

    You know I'm not a fan of Obama, or any liberal Democrat for that matter. and I do not believe Government has any business telling people how to eat or how to raise their children. Our Constitution expressly forbids such intrusion into our daily lives.However, I'm cheering LOUDLY for Michelle Obama's initiatives to get children moving again & reshaping public school lunches. I don't know if you caught any of Jamie Oliver's show Food Revolution, but I think you'd like it. I was FLOORED and disgusted frankly at the stats & images of the fat & sugar content that served to children in public schools. No wonder we have obesity & juvenile diabetes issues on top of an ADD/ADHD epidemic (yes I said epidemic) and increasing social development issues. Sigh.I was not raised in a house of sodas, fast food & junk food either. Although I do enjoy a sweet now and then, but I bake & cook mostly organic. We don't do processed foods often if at all in our house. When I lived in Nigeria I was forced to make my food from scratch and I kicked any habit of American quick, processed food addiction. It was the best thing that ever happened to my body!I'd bet my mortgage your Mother because of her great healthy habits doesn't have weight or many health issues outside of natural aging. Am I right?Kudos to her and thank God for conscientious for Moms like you both!!An excellent topic. Hey if Jamie Oliver's show comes back you should do a weekly recap or hold discussions on your blog about the episodes. I know a lot of Moms that would love that!

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  2. Thanks, Ally, for the sweet and insightful comments. I have to say that I my approach to food has changed a lot over the past year or two as I read and inform myself more about the dangers of not knowing what you're eating. I feel it's important to constantly be engaged in the conversation even when it might seem no one is listening (LOL) because you just never know where you're making an impact. I don't know that my reach will ever be more than inside my own home, but if my kids grow up to be healthy, happy, and food intelligent, then I'll take that as a definite win. As for Jamie Oliver's show, I did hear about the deficiencies he was exposing and was sad to hear that his show was cancelled. It's always amazing to me how much people will gravitate towards a show like "The Bachelor", but won't stand still for something that is actually trying to give you something of substance. Like I said, the responsibility will ultimately fall on us.

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  3. Ally Garner says:

    "It's always amazing to me how much people will gravitate towards a show like "The Bachelor", but won't stand still for something that is actually trying to give you something of substance."Amen! I did not realize his show was cancelled. That really makes me sad. We watched most of last season & I fell in love with it. It was stunning to see how resistant California public schools were to changing how they feed students even after the exposure AND Mrs. Obama's influence. Ugh.

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  4. It was a shame. I though Oliver was doing a brilliant job of exposing the issues, but alas it wasn't good enough "television" to continue. I heard he may still get picked up by a cable network at some point, but he's done for the moment and that is very unfortunate.

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