Sunday, May 2, 2010

Teaching Kids Healthy Eating Habits

As a mom it should come as no surprise that I want the absolute best for my child. This certainly holds true for the lessons my husband and I will teach her over the course of her life, especially as it relates to food and healthy eating and exercise habits.

Looking back on the years of my life and the relationship I had, and have, with food, it wasn’t exactly healthy or ideal.

In the eyes of my child I have been set straight. There are many lessons I want to teach my daughter, with my husband, and many lessons I need to continue to teach myself.

In the first year of Sarah's life I nursed and pumped breast milk. During this time I also became hungry in a way that I never thought could be possible. Surprisingly, during my pregnancy I did not experience the overwhelming desire to eat as I had expected to have happen. The hunger surge started a few months after nursing and pumping became routine. Of course, after losing much of my baby weight in the first few months after Sarah was born things changed. Being tired and with little energy to cook or exercise the weight piled back on.

Fast forward another year; I had my wake-up call in winter of 2009, which I previously wrote about here. I had an epiphany and asked my husband to join me on the journey to a better, healthier life that involved more healthy eating and more active lifestyle including regular exercise. Fortunately, I have since been able to lose all the baby weight and start feeling more in control again of my body with healthy cooking, exercising, and especially portion control. The biggest change was removing sweets and soda and also downsizing my meals.

This past month I have thought more and more about my relationship with food and remembered what it was like growing up. The mentality when I was younger was to eat your plate of food until all was gone. Seeing my weight fluctuate much over the years as a youngster and adult despite regular exercise, has made me realize how much I have to do to educate myself as well as my daughter about healthy eating and exercise. For example, my husband and I have been very good about not pushing Sarah to finish all of her food on her plate and instead encourage her to eat as much as she is able and interested and also providing good, healthy choices for her to choose from.

Sarah is not deprived of sweets but we do indeed keep them to a minimum. We definitely don't use food as reward and highly encourage this as it could very well backfire in the future.

Sarah is a happy, healthy and well-adjusted child. It's imperative that my husband and I set the right example for her so she doesn't struggle with weight challenges as a child and adult as I have. And, thus, we must be good role models as well.

Therefore, I will never tell Sarah she must eat all of her food but instead to encourage her by providing healthy choices and being part of her exercise routine, which is definitely not a problem for our overly active, playground-loving toddler.

I look forward to continuing my journey to additional weight loss, gaining better control of my relationship with food and paving the way for my daughter to live a happy and healthy life.

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