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Plain Talk About Family Style Nutrition: From The Center For Natural and Integrative Medicine

Halloween welcomed us to the Holiday Season. Now, as we plan Thanksgiving and Christmas, we know we face the season of over-indulgence, and sugary temptations.  The Center For Natural and Integative Medicine thought it would be approapriate to create a blog about healthy nutrition, family style.

Having “the talk” with your child used to mean an uncomfortable discussion about “the birds and the bees.” Today it is more likely that an even more frightening talk will be about on the sensitive subject of getting fat. Certain subjects have always been difficult to for parents to approach with children. So how can parents talk tactfully about this sensitive subject with their overweight child? The following are some of the best suggestions we investigated on the Internet:

1. Action speaks louder than words!

We are putting this point at “number one,” because we think it will be the most awkward one for parents to follow. Like it or not, you are a role model, and your kids will shape their attitudes toward food, based on the kind of habits you show them, not just what you tell them. This means talking to them about choices at fast food restaurants, and about the reasons that a drive-through is not a good choice four nights a week.

2. Whose Side Are You On?

You can speak honestly and yet compassionately when your child asks you about their weight. Emily Ets-Hokin, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Buffalo School of Medicine said, “If your child is concerned about her weight, tell her you want to help, and make getting healthy a project you work on together.” This is much better communication that showing your child pity or criticism.

Thought Provoking Questions:  Can you teach them about healthy cooking styles by enjoying a class? Perhaps you can share the excitement of a new, healthy eating style cookbook in your own kitchen? Can you allow youngsters to suggest a new fruit or vegetable at the grocery store? Then you can give them ownership of that vegetable by allowing them to clean it and chose how to cook it.

Healthy eating can become a family affair without becoming a family lecture. It can all begin with what you put in the cupboards: Let the frozen food, cookies, chips and ice cream run out, and replace them with “fruit, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.” Learn the joy of whole grains, lean meats and fish, and pass it on to your children. By the way, we know this is much easier to say than it is to do.

3. It’s Easier Than You Think To Foster An Active Lifestyle.

If there is no junk food in the house, then nobody can eat it. Likewise, if the television is not turned on, a family can make time to “play” outside. Taking a walk together twice a week or riding bikes together around a park, can improve family communication health as well as health. Family outings can be short trips, close to home; they need not be extravagant vacations.

Another suggestion we found included a reading lesson in the grocery store to show children the dangers of words that end in “-ose,” like high fructose corn syrup.

4. Nobody loves a critic.

a child about healthy food choices, teasing, and embarrassing them are direct ways to alienate a child. Experts agree that knowing what not to say is as important as knowing what to say.

5. Talk about The Big Issues.“Being overweight can be a symptom of a deeper issue that your child is experiencing.” If you know what your child is doing at school, you might learn what to talk about, other than their weight. Overweight children might be suffering loneliness, sadness or depression because they are socially isolated. Perhaps a class or a club will help him or her find friends instead of finding comfort in food.” Are there marital or financial issues you should discuss with your child? Do not be afraid to bring in an expert advisor; realize you might need to discuss any or all of these matters with your healthcare provider.

6. Serve Up Big Helpings of Unconditional Love.

Although you might be tempted to go overboard with rewards as well as rules, be cautious that your son or daughter understands you love them, no matter what size they are. “Kids need to know that what you feel about them has nothing to do with their weight…Part of loving yourself means taking care of your body and keeping it healthy. If your child knows she’s loved and learns to love herself, she’s far more apt to make healthy choices.”

If you like some of these suggestions, and you want to learn more, we suggest you visit this website for more information. The essential communication in this situation is gaining health, as opposed to losing weight.



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