Kids are often the litmus test for how sane, healthy and functional our society is.
Kids’ bullying is becoming more frequent and harsh? Kids are shooting other kids with guns? Kids are overweight?
They are learning all of this. It is not coded in our ‘American DNA’ in case that was your theory. Kids demonstrate learned behavior.
Learned from us.
Thankfully, that means something very hopeful: we have the power to change the unhealthy habits of our kids. Of a whole generation, really.
So, let’s start with food. Because, as any teacher knows, it is much easier to teach your students shapes or verb conjugation if they have had breakfast. A healthy breakfast, not Hot Cheetos and Mountain Dew. And as any parent knows, it is hard to get your child to wake up in a good mood if all they had for dinner the night before was a cracker because they didn’t want any of the fish stew you made.
A small disclaimer: My kids eat pretty well. They eat decently-sized portions and about 98% of the time, they eat whatever is served to them by yours truly. Yes, that includes fish and veggies. However, this does not mean that our family knows what we are doing. It doesn’t mean I don’t have my own food issues. It doesn’t mean my kids eat enough vegetables every day or that they don’t have candy and ice cream loaded with sugar and dyes. It doesn’t mean we are as healthy as we could and should be.
You know why? Because I am just a mom, trying to do her best and using common sense whenever it comes to me. (I think we all know how often that is.) I am not perfect and I don’t usually know what the heck I am doing. I am hoping thinking many of us are in this boat together.
You know who does know what they are doing? Someone like Laura Cipullo, who has the letters RD, CDE, CEDS after her name. Guys, I don’t even know what those letters mean. That’s how far away from being nutrition-qualified I am. But I looked them up and it means she is a Registered Dietician, Certified Diabetes Educator, and a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. So when she writes a nutrition and exercise program called Healthy Habits that is geared toward children, we should probably put down the brownie and listen.
I was able to get a sneak peak at this program and as a mom and an educator, it was exciting. It is an 8-week program that is so simply organized and color-coded that a child could figure it out! Wait…which, I guess, is the point. The format of the book and program was definitely created for classrooms, organizations, or groups. However, if you home school – or are simply a Type A mom – this program would be a really fun experience for you and your kids. There is one topic a week, with clear information to be taught and then fun activities for the kids to complete centered around that topic. The weekly topics include: Food Coding, Hunger and Fullness, Simple Snacks, and Encouraging Healthy Habits. The program comes with many handouts to help complete some of the weekly activities that help reinforce each week’s lesson. Honestly, it got my teacher juices flowing a bit and I am going to try some of these lessons and activities with my own kids.
As much as it was exciting to read through this booklet, it was also a little disheartening. It made me realize that I still have a long way to go in the healthy mindset I give my children as they head out into the world, making their own decisions about their health. Also, I realized that my own relationship with food is not something that could be described as healthy. There is a chart included that describes the body’s signals about hunger and fullness. I hate to admit that I reach a “Ten: You’re super uncomfortable with belly pain and pressure. It feels like your stomach is stretching. You need to rest in order to digest.” way too frequently. The only thing she forgot to add was “You feel like you are going to vomit and ask someone nearby to please roll you out of the restaurant.” As I said in the beginning, kids’ behaviors are learned from us. If I want my kids to make healthy choices I need to be their model. This booklet was a wake up call that not only could I be doing more in terms of truly teaching my kids how to think about food in a healthier way, but that I need to follow these same guidelines if I want them to look to me for guidance.
There are so many aspects of being a good parent. Of raising a productive member of society who is happy, fulfilled and healthy. It can be overwhelming and leave you not knowing where to begin. I think our kids’ health is truly the best place. Everything else radiates out from there when you think about it, doesn’t it? This program is definitely a smart and easy place to start.
Here is the link so that you can find out more about Laura and her books: http://themommymanualseries.com/ Try suggesting her program to your child’s school, troop, local YMCA, or even team. Heck, or just get together with a few other moms and do this program as a group!
We are all in this together, this whole ‘raising the next generation’ thing. I’ll put down my brownie(s), if you put down yours. I think we can find better ways to show our kids what ‘happiness’ means and that it doesn’t (always) lie at the bottom of a pint of Talenti Salty Caramel Gelato.
*Legal disclaimer: Although I was given free access to view this booklet as press, I was not compensated financially in any way. The opinions given are mine.*