When your kids were small, your mother might have cautioned you against saying something in front of them with the time-worn phrase, “Little pitchers have big ears” meaning children hear and understand more than you think.
Well, those little pitchers have big eyes too and they don’t stop watching you just because they are now older (even when they are teens). Your every move is watched and even emulated. When it comes to weight loss and healthy eating habits, you can provide a good example (or a bad one.) This is particularly important for when your kid returns home from weight loss camp. You don’t want to undo all the good results they have achieved, so now is the time to look to your own diet and exercise habits.
Consider starting the day with some stretches –a habit that will be useful well into the years when you are a grandparents. If you do these on your living room floor, your kids will notice as they bound by. Invite them to join in.
Next comes breakfast, the most important meal for a reason, it is the fuel for the day. Ask your kids to research which juices and fruits are best for your family and have them report the results to you–then buy (or better still-squeeze the juices). Let them experiment with juice combinations too. Make sure there are several healthy cereals available for those rushed mornings, as well as yogurt, fresh fruit, and a handy blender for a dash-for-the-door smoothie. Don’t you dare limit yourself to a cup of coffee because you are late for work!
Pack your healthy lunch for work and let our kid pack their own lunches from the ingredients you’ve assembled. Make sure you have nuts and fruit and whole grains in transportable pieces for ease of use. Banish soda and soft drinks from your house. Buy a water filter pitcher and keep plenty of organic juices around. Start monitoring your own fluid intake–making sure you get plenty of liquid to flush your kidneys. Trade in whole mile for low-fat milk in your refrigerator. Investigate drinking soy milk or almond milk instead–as your kids for their opinions of each.
Keep fresh fruit, like apples or dried fruit in the winter, for a quick handful of energy. Replace them (uncomplainingly) when your kids eat them all. Substitute sources of protein (other than meat) when possible–find out what type of beans (kidney, navy, garbanzo) and tofu your kids like and start eating them yourself.
Buy a rice cooker and brown rice. Keep it and salt-free soy sauce handy. A bowl of low-fat milk, honey, and rice even make a great sweet substitute.
Invite your kids out for an after-dinner walk (and, if you are lucky, talk. Tell them you enjoy their company and love talking things over with them.) Enjoy a light dessert, like natural sorbet or frozen yogurt, when you return and throw out the cookies and cakes (if you find yourself jumping in the car and driving to the store for a fattening dessert at night, you might need to visit an adult weight loss camp.)
Join a gym with a family membership. Set a schedule when you will go and stick to it. Let your kids know the schedule will be kept and that they are always invited and will provide the ride. Buy a bike and use it. Train for a marathon–in front of the whole family. Get them rooting for you. Then follow through on that and all your healthy changes. When they see your commitment, they will know you are serious and it can start the gears in their brains a-turning.
Parenting doesn’t have to be all, “Do it because I said so”! It can be “Do what I do,” if you utilize the power of example.