Wednesday, November 23, 2016

We all carry little scars from our childhood – maybe it was a brat that called you an idiot on the playground or the time your boyfriend dumped you for another girl or when your high school friends went camping without you because your parents said no… Whatever that moment was to you, it will show up again when you become a parent. For me it was the extra weight I carried from puberty until today. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t hate my body. High school was a never-ending cycle of diets and weigh-ins and self-loathing. Having lived through those years of feeling ugly and depressed and so completely miserable in my skin, I have always vowed to never let me kids become overweight. I never want Sophie or Grace to struggle with those hurtful feelings. This resolve makes me a little psycho about food sometimes, but it has also encouraged a very important discussion in our household: the one about healthy eating.

Sophie is at an age where we are starting to slowly lose control of what she eats – school meals, kids parties, sleepovers. It’s become increasingly important to me that she is aware of the relationship between her food and her body. For her to make the connection between foods being fuel and not just a nice tasty treat is my main goal.

But let’s get real, how do you teach a 3 year old anything? They already think they know it all. Well, after months and months of trying and Googling and chatting to other moms I stumbled across Red Light Green Light Eat Right, an American initiative that aims to teach children about healthy food choices. 

The concept is fairly simple:
Think of the food we eat in terms of a traffic light. Some foods are green light foods (Go! Go! Go! Eat as much as you need), some foods are yellow light foods (Slow! Slow! Slow! Eat in moderation) and some foods are red light foods (No! No! No! Eat these once in a while). No food is off limits; the bad ones are just carefully moderated to once a week or less.

In addition to teaching her to make the better choice, I am also trying to implement a few healthy eating habits:
  1. When we go grocery shopping, I allow her to choose the produce she would like to eat with supper. I make a special effort to include her in the preparation and cooking of it so that come suppertime, she already has made a connection between what we bought and what she’s eating.
  2. We’re making a commitment to eat 4 out of 7 meals at the dining room table. The couch is comfy and fun but I noticed a huge difference in the way Sophie eats when she’s at the table. She is more involved and tends to enjoy her food more.
  3. Adios to the sugar and refined carbs. While I am not able to cut these two demon foods out of Regan and Sophie’s diet completely, I am able to drastically reduce their consumption of them. From Monday to Friday our house is a carb and sugar free zone. On the weekend treats are allowed in moderation.
  4. Meal planning – the more I plan our meals (and even snacks) the less chance there is of us going off the rails with a take-out or eating something readymade from Woolies.
My goal is not to be a food nazi, but rather to teach my girls the healthy habits I didn’t learn as a child.

What are some of the ways you encourage your littles to eat right and make good food choices? 

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