Thursday, 14 August 2008
by Mama FoxAs a parent, it is my job to make sure that my children are safe, healthy, well fed, and rested. Sure... that sounds fairly easy. That's all about childproofing, regular doctor's appointments, 3 meals and 2 snacks and an early bed time. Um, no. Of course, nothing in the realm of parenting is that simple.
- Food. Kids love food. My boys would never stop eating if I let them. I've found empty cracker boxes in the pantry, I've heard little crinkling of bags from the other room, and I've found bites taken out of apples in the fruit bowl. But I don't battle over this, get angry for the "waste" of food. I take the more gentle approach. I am mindful. I ask myself "When was the last time they ate?" or " Could they be thirsty?" or "Are they bored?" If it's been a couple of hours since their last meal or snack, I fix them something to eat and make sure they have a drink. I try to keep them on a regular schedule so they don't get too hungry. If they seem to be eating as something to do, I direct them to something else-- often running around outside.
- Exercise. It is very important for children and adults. No, I'm not talking about hitting up the gym with your 6 year-old... just physical activity. When given the chance, kids will run around wildly (most of the time screaming). They climb and jump. Children are masters of physical activity. Children act better when they have enough exercise (and sleep, of course). Sometimes a lot of behavior "problems" can be solved by 15 minutes outside to get out pent up energy. Without an energy outlet, many kids just go nuts, bouncing off the walls, unable to think about what they are doing! You can stand there, yell, and punish, (which of course being an attachment/gentle discipline parent I try not to do that.) or you can take the kids out into the yard and let them go nuts out there.
The sad part is that it's becoming increasingly harder to do in this world. Kids are glued to the TV and bombarded with junk food commercials. They beg for McDonald's, candy, ice cream and eat their junk in front of the TV. Why? Because the parents allow it. They supply the junk thinking, "Well that's all they will eat." or "This is easier than cooking." Or perhaps that is what they want to eat, too. Parents are dead tired and just want to sit down and veg in front of the TV, not realizing that they are the most influential role models for their kids. Children will copy parents. If they see you eating junk in front of the TV, they will too.
I do not buy junk (often). I keep my kitchen stocked with whole grain, organic foods. I cook from scratch pretty much every night. I don't buy fruit snacks, just fruit. The only person that drinks soda is Papa Fox. The boys and I drink 100% apple juice, water, or soy milk. I make my own bread and tortillas. I check labels and stay away from "high fructose corn syrup." That is hard because it's in EVERYTHING it seems. When I do buy meat, it's "no hormone added" meat (don't get me started on the chemicals they pump into cows that end up in us). I don't put extra sugar in my kids' organic cheerios. They didn't even know what McDonald's was until Fox1 was 3 and Fox2 was almost 2, and even then, it was my mom that took them, not me. Why? Because I am keeping my family healthy. If it's not in the house, we can't eat it. If my kids don't see it, they don't ask for it.
Yes, that part is that simple. My kids would rather have a piece of fruit than candy. They like whole grain pasta. They love natural peanut butter and no sugar added jelly sandwiches. Our food doesn't have to be loaded with extra sugars and colors and who-knows-what-else to be good. If your kid is used to the junk, you will have a harder time getting them to eat healthier, which is exactly why healthy eating needs to start early. It's not hard to make a few simple meals from home. You can even sneak in some good stuff. YOU should be eating healthy anyway. Be a good role model.
I am mindful of what I am putting into my body and what I'm giving my children for their bodies. Yeah, sometimes it would just be easier to have Papa Fox stop and get fast food and allow them to watch TV all day, but honestly, I like feeling healthy and being outside with them. We all benefit from the fresh air.
Are you happy with your kids' eating habits? What steps can you take towards healthy eating and living?