While we’re all setting our New Year’s Resolutions and committing to a ‘new year, new us’, we reckon it’s an excellent time to consider how our eating habits are influencing our kids. Beth Bonfiglio from Little Fusspot shares some ways we can be better food role models for our children.
Role models are important. They enable us to make good decisions by providing patterns of good decision-making to follow. They make it easier for us to be happy and healthy by showing us the right path in amongst the wrong ones.
Now, it’s fair to say that your children are going to discover some role models in their life by accident. They’ll be bumbling on with whatever they are doing and “Boom!”, a sporting superstar or a talented singer will inspire them.
However, there’s one set of role models that are fairly consistent in all children’s lives – their parents. Yes, you as a parent are a role model for your child, and it’s important that you take that responsibility seriously—in particular, when it comes to food.
Diet is everything
We don’t know very much about human health. Shocking, right? Hundreds of billions of dollars spent in research, and nobody has yet cured a cold. Yup, the common cold is impervious to all mankind’s cleverness.
Yet, we do know some things about human health. One of them is this: diet has a massive impact on your long-term health and wellbeing. It may be the critical factor in these things.
Poor diet leads to a range of conditions from obesity to diabetes to Alzheimer’s and more. Nobody wants these things for their children. So, if you want to help your kids be healthy, you need to establish yourself as a healthy food role model.
Setting an example
Role models set examples. They give the people who are following them templates for the way they should behave. That means you need to think about the food you eat and the way that you approach health and good living in general.
You can’t expect your kids to chow down on salads and drink refreshing water when you’re always running out the doors of (insert name of your favorite burger joint here), clasping a fat burger and a half gallon tub of some sugary soda.
It’s not a realistic expectation. Your kids want to be like you. And the line “Don’t do as I do, do as I say.” has had precisely zero success in parenting in the last thousand years. You’re not going to be the first.
You probably won’t change over night
It is, however, also unrealistic to expect every parent to become a perfect nutritionist at the click of their fingers. It would be nice, but it’s not realistic.
So, instead, you want to talk to your children about healthy eating. You want to work with them to set goals for your own healthy eating and for their healthy eating. (And by the way, the fact that your kids see you going through the process of changing your eating habits will help them be on board to change their own.)
These healthy eating goals should be explicit, clear and measurable. Ideally, you should write them down so you can revisit them. (Did you know that the act of writing a goal down makes it far more likely that you will attain it? It does. Try it and see.)
Be honest about failure and celebrate success
You should honestly discuss failures in achieving goals. That way ,you and your children can learn from them. Ask questions such as: What got in the way? What could you do better next time? What will you do in future to avoid such situations?
It’s also important to celebrate success in achieving good dietary habits. A week of salads deserves a big cheer. It doesn’t deserve, however, a trip to that burger joint we spoke about earlier. One powerful thing you can do to make sure good dietary habits take place for your children is to stop treating bad, junk, sugary food as though it’s a reward. It’s not.
You can become a good role model for your children’s food and eating habits. It just takes a little work and perseverance.
To hear more from Beth, head to www.littlefusspot.com.