I ran across some suggestions by Diana Kohnle in HealthDay News that I found to be mostly common sense – but mostly ignored by our fast-paced lifestyle. In the same vein as the advice found in Ecclesiastes 4:12 (a cord of three strands is not quickly broken), it’s much easier to eat healthy when everybody in the family is practicing the same nutritional habits. Easier said than done? Most certainly. But it’s worth looking at.
Cook meals at home, together as a family.
This suggestion provides multiple benefits. Family time comes at a premium these days. Between the ridiculously overbooked schedule of parents, electronics games for the kids, 248 channels on television and school activities, it’s getting harder and harder to find time to share with your loved ones… whatever age they may be. Involving the family in preparation of the meal provides for great conversation and, just as important, education. Teaching your children how to cook will go a very long way toward keeping them healthy as they set off on their own.
Encourage your kids to help you plan snacks and meals.
Another great suggestion. This goes, in my opinion, more towards education or training. Not only will you learn more about your children, but they will learn how to plan meals correctly. They’ll learn how to plan ahead, how to decide on grocery lists and needs, what food is easy to prepare and what isn’t, how to avoid the last minute rush to prepare the meal (which usually means bad food or fast food), and much more. And again, it’s family time!
Stock up on healthy snacks.
Snacking is inevitable. I remember my fourth grade year. Every day I would come home from school and have a bowl and half of sweetened cereal (there was always extra milk left, so I had to have another half bowl to finish the milk). I gained almost 20 pounds that year, which is a lot for a fourth grade kid. Today, my kids are in the same boat. Fortunately, they are just as happy to grab 2 or 3 pieces of fruit as anything else. As long as we hide the Cheez-its.
Make sure your children understand they should only eat when they’re hungry.
This one applies to the entire family, not just the kids. Too often, we eat when we’re bored or emotional. Has it been stressful at school or work? Time for ice cream. Bored to tears? Nachos would help. Forget the natural rhythms of our body. Our American culture is built around consumption (food and many other less acceptable things). I must admit, I’m preaching to myself on this one. We need to relearn what God built into us from the beginning. Your body tells you when you need food. Listen to what it’s saying. My goodness, this topic alone is an entire series of articles. Books have been written about this. So… try looking at the results of this search.
Make sure the whole family eats breakfast.
You’ve all heard the old saying… “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” I’ll not preach on this one. Again, it’s common sense and hard to argue. For more info, read this WebMD article.
Take turns putting down your forks and talking about your day during meals.
This one has a dual effect. First, it gets you back to family time. Conversation is a lost art. But it sure seems easier over a meal. Maybe that’s why some of Jesus’ best work was done over a meal. Seriously… look into it.
Anyway, talking over dinner is fun and it brings you together. Secondly, it allows your mind to catch up to your stomach. One of the reasons we overeat is our tendency to shovel. The food goes in as fast as we can get it there. Studies have shown that our mind senses our “hey-I’m-full” signal about 20 minutes after we are actually to the point of being full. Slowing down and talking allows our brain to stay in pace with our body. More talk = less eating… if we follow suggestion #4.
Does your family follow any of these guidelines already? If so, how does it work for you? Let me know. Leave a comment!