Teaching Your Kids About Nutrition: Healthy Eating vs. an “Obsessive Mindset.”

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Let’s dive into a hot button topic with Stay Fit Mom Coach Amy all about teaching your kids nutrition!

I want to start this off by saying that this is absolutely not to make moms feel any sort of way about how they approach this topic or where they are at in their journey. This is meant to get your wheels turning about how we teach our families and others about nutrition and WHY we count macros. ​​​​​​​This has been and can be a really touchy topic. A lot of feelings about this comes from the clients background, food/body relationship and mindset with this program. SFM has ALWAYS been about teaching you what your food is made up of macro-wise so that you can recognize and develop the skills to eat more balanced and healthy. We want you to maximize your personal health and potential with all of life’s individual challenges that you have. We don’t want this to be a ‘diet mindset’ for quick fixes or yo-yo weight changes but a nutritional lifestyle that you can live your whole life with and pass on that healthy legacy to your family and friends.

We hear often, from mostly new clients, prospective clients or fresh 6 week program grads, “How do I count my macros and eat healthy food while my kid eats candy or kid food?  I don’t want them to develop unhealthy food obsessions or think about dieting at such a young age.”

Do you have your hot button shield up?!  I want to encourage you all to think about this with an open mind vs being defensive.

The bottom line is that our culture and American diet encourages and embraces in some ways unhealthy habits that lead to health problems and obesity.

Let’s go back just a little bit to my own personal journey.  I am 42 years old. I grew up in the era of dexatrim, Jenny Craig, slim fast, fat burners, Exercise VHS, and rail thin supermodels in the 90’s. My mom was always on the next fad diet and referred to her body in negative terms. I grew up in ballet and cheer, where we had to do weekly weigh-ins and wear tight costumes. We were placed in formations according to our body sizes. No talk of healthy nutrition was ever given.  Fast forward 30+ years, I’ve tried it ALL. From every fad diet to over exercising. I am so grateful for how counting macros has taught me what I was eating and how to balance it. That and CrossFit has done more for me learning to love and accept my body and fuel it properly. I never got my desired ‘Cindy Crawford body”.. but I’ve got strong arms and legs, I know how to eat properly and shift my macros for competition, composition change and maintenance. I wish that I knew then what I know now.

My point is that it starts with YOU and what you teach and project to your family, kids and acquaintances. Is your goal here only the pants size and number on the scale? Or is it longevity and health that usually results in more favorable body composition? What do you want your 5 year old to know about nutrition for their whole life vs finding out the hard way over trial and error?

I choose to teach my children about what foods have protein in them and that protein gives us big muscles and makes our tummies feel full. I choose to tell them what foods are carbohydrates and that carbs give us energy to play. I choose to tell them that healthy fats make our tummies feel more full, help our joints move properly and make our brains smart. I choose to tell them that sugar is not good for us and that we shouldn’t eat very much of it.

The last sentence seems to be the hardest one. How much candy/junk do you let your kids eat vs how much do you eat yourselves? Why is kid food different from adult food? I can imagine that the feelings are starting to bubble up a bit. Maybe even feeling a little guilty or defensive. Junk food is EVERYWHERE. The American diet is full of processed, high sugar foods with little nutritional value. It is easy to let your kids eat treats all day every day. It takes much more effort to feed them good stuff and limit the junk. I fully admit that my toddlers are NOT good eaters. If I could own stock in Costco Dino Nuggets, I’d be a rich woman. I loved that someone asked Tracy on an IG Q&A if her family ate the foods that she meal prepped. She honestly answered that one does, one eats 7 things and one eats 4 things.

The trick here is to always be looking for ways to improve on the place you are at. I am having the conversation with my small kids about what we are eating and why we eat it. My kids get very little candy. We opt for a lot of fruit and a few ‘healthy-ish” pantry snacks. It’s HARD for me that my kids won’t eat vegetables or regular protein, but I keep trying. Giving them a tiny piece of broccoli, meat, rice etc. I just hope that as they grow, their palates will develop and that they will see the example of mom and dad to eat healthy.

The coaches gave some great ideas that they personally do to help their kids/families learn how to eat healthy.

Courtney: I gave my kids a ‘water goal’. They can’t eat dessert yet if they haven’t kept up on it or if they don’t eat their protein serving. This doesn’t deprive them by not letting them ever have a treat, but teaches them that they have to have balance. It’s OK to not say YES to everything- (this goes for kids AND moms). The word “DIET” doesn’t even need to be used. It should just be the way things are.

How to teach your kids health nutrition habits #stayfitmom #nutrition #mom

**I really LOVE this because even though it’s hard to hear, it’s true. My husband and I had a conversation with a friend the other day about how when we first got married, some of our friends gave us a hard time about eating well and working out, over time, our circle has shifted, either they got on the wagon, or we made new friends that share our goals and values. We were the ‘weird’ ones.. so instead of lowering our values, we made ‘weird’ friends. It’s ok for your kids to be different.. the key to not having them feel that way or feel deprived is teaching them the WHY. Educate.. it’s not just an “I SAID SO”.

Virginia: I teach my kids that protein helps them feel full. So if they want waffles for breakfast, I tell them, “That is great but you need protein to feel full so would you like eggs or sausage with that?”  I give my kids cereal over fruit and greek yogurt as a topping vs a whole bowl with milk. It keeps them more full and still lets them enjoy cereal. Hearing them say they are hungry every 5 minutes is the worst! I let them have one pantry snack a day. If they want another snack, it needs to come from the fridge- hummus/veggies, yogurt/fruit, cheese stick, etc. I tell them that pantry snacks are yummy but fridge snacks have more vitamins that make them healthy!

Tracy: The food marketed toward kids has very little nutritional value?  Would you spend your macros on goldfish? HECK NO!  Avoid the “kid food” aisles and minimize those kinds of snacks. They aren’t good for kids or MOM! We hear clients weekly talk about being derailed by Goldfish! It’s also important to give yourself GRACE. We are all at different places- the key is working toward improvement. This is HARD! Don’t give up!

Krista: I try so hard to have my kids help me shop and make our food. Not only does it teach them what food is made of but how to balance it. Plus… who wants to go to college or get married not knowing how to cook?! This is a win-win!  Teaching them about food and giving them a skill that is lifelong! How will they ever know how to eat healthy if they can’t do these basic things? If they have to rely on fast food or restaurants, health isn’t a priority.

Chelsea: I do buy kid snacks but we have kid size bowls that they can dish them up in vs the whole bag. If they are hungry again, they have to eat some real food vs grabbing a second snack item. Educate them- I had no idea about this stuff until I was an adult! I also have a friend with older kids that tells me that it gets better- they learn to eat more variety and better food when they are exposed to them over time!

Kristi: I think that it is worth mentioning that we need to teach them to interact with food types responsibly, if we don’t, then when they are exposed to unhealthy options, the temptation to overindulge will be greater! I am also an advocate of feeding kids when they are hungry- they need to learn to recognize their hunger cues and eat well. Growth spurts are legit so don’t suppress that hunger. This is again where the balance and education comes in about food types! Our goal is to raise functional humans with the ability to reason, assess and make good choices.  This means that every decision has a consequence. Kids learn to make decisions by us modeling how to do so and by giving them boundaries! They need to work their way to those boundaries and find their own way. Give them choices and point them the right direction so it translates into a life skill.

We hope this gets your wheels turning on the subject! You’re doing amazing things for the next generation of healthy, strong kiddos!​​​​​​​

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