6 Important Ways To Model A HEALTHY Lifestyle For Your Kids

Photo: WeHeartIt
Self, Family

Make being healthy FUN!

Do you struggle to lose weight and keep it off? Are your kids overweight, too?

Parents of overweight kids are usually concerned and want to do something to help but don’t know what to do. But even if your little ones are at healthy weights, it's important that they learn good eating habits early in life.

Here are six suggestions for preventing your kids from becoming overweight, compulsive overeaters as adults:

1. Resign From The Clean Plate Club

When you force your kids to eat everything on their plates, you're teaching them to ignore their bodily signal telling them they're full. “Normal eaters” often leave food on their plates because they heed the signal. Compulsive eaters don’t stop until the box of cookies is empty or they're overly full. They no longer hear the signal that says enough.

2. Model Healthy Portion Sizes

Learn how much your kid need to eat in order to grow up healthy. Portion size is vital. Ask your pediatrician or ask a dietitian for assistance with this, and make sure you include healthy foods from each food group. Even preschoolers can learn to distinguish between a protein, carbohydrate or fat. If your kid doesn’t like spinach or fish, find another comparable food instead.

Take your kids food shopping with you and have them help you choose healthy foods. As they get older, show them how to read the food labels. Make a game of learning how to dole out healthy portions. You can teach older kids about additives and how to avoid those that are unhealthy.

3. Don’t Use Dessert Or Treats As A Reward Or Punishment 

Certain holidays or special events are often associated with food. What’s a birthday without a cake or Halloween without candy? We all respond to praise, but when rewards for achievement come in the form of high calorie snacks or desserts, your kids may grow up as adults who continue to celebrate a job well done by consuming unhealthy amounts of calories.

When my kids were little, I avoided this by using compartmentalized dishes (similar to the ones that contain TV dinners). I put all the foods out at once, including the dessert. That way, dessert wasn't made so important. It was just part of the meal.

4. Recognize How Stress Triggers Cravings

Most compulsive eaters use food as a tranquilizer to treat unhappy feelings. Scientists now know that cravings arise in our brain when life stresses upset the balance between the brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin. Serotonin is the soothing neurotransmitter. When we eat yummy food, our serotonin levels rise.

Therefore, notice when your kids feel stressed, and teach them how to deal with their unhappiness or anxiety without food. Encourage them to share what's causing the stress. Listen attentively and help them resolve the unhappy emotions.

5. Don't Use Embarrassing Nicknames

When I was growing up, my parents had a friend whose nickname was Tubby. He was an enormously fat man. He always appeared amiable, but I wonder how he really felt when he heard people say it.

If your kid is plump, refrain from calling him/her names or embarrassing him/her about looks. Instead, look for ways to build self-esteem. Perhaps he/she excels in other areas, like music or dance.

6. Be A Healthy Role Model 

The do as I say, not as I do philosophy sets a very destructive example for kids. Are you a good role model for them when it comes to nutrition, food choices, snacking and food shopping?

Are you a compulsive overeater? Do you constantly go on and off fad diets, hiding sweets and cheating? Do you hate your body? What do your kids hear you say about yourself when you look in the mirror?

If you don’t like your own body, you're training them to think that how you look is more important than who you are.

When you use these six suggestions as a guide, you're investing in your kids' future, enabling them to grow up as healthy and happy adults free of eating disorders.

Look for more information in my books How to Stop Playing the Weighting Game and Desserts Is Stressed Spelled Backwards.​ Enjoy a free phone consult with Gloria to discuss how you can help your children avoid becoming binge eaters. Download your copy of Gloria’s FREE eBook, Creating Happiness, now!



Explore YourTango