Even though the saying goes 'home is where the heart is,' I would argue that our taste buds usually feel most at home at the family kitchen table. Savory dishes are a huge part of most childhood memories, but with obesity and eating disorders on the rise, we need to be careful to cultivate a healthy relationship with food in our children.
Amy Hendel recognized the importance of creating a useful food philosophy when she started her own family.
“I needed a simple outline that would help me to organize my family food life and allow me to maximize my money spent, time spent as well as help me to teach my kids from a young age how to have a healthy lifestyle without obsessing over choices and habits,” Hendel explains.
To say she succeeded in her mission would be an understatement. Hendel, a certified nutritionist and Health coach, wrote the book 4 Habits of Healthy Families and is now a a sought after expert on thge topic. Hendel created her 4 Habits as a mom, for moms, and shared some of her secrets with us at GalTime!
The 4 Habits: plan, prepare, portion, and play
Above all, Hendel stresses that a healthy food relationship stems from thoughtful preparation.
“Just like you need to plan when it comes to finances, professional goals, so to you need to plan menus, poll family members on entrée choices for the week,” she said.
Plan: Hendel suggests that you have every family member vote on the menu for the week. This prevents food fights during mealtime and allows you to build a shopping list that nearly eliminates impulse shopping.
Prepare: After returning from the grocery store, Hendel says to break up food into portioned baggies, and wash fruits and vegetables so that they are readily available for healthy snacking.
Portion: This habit is not only integrated into the plan and prepare steps (buying and bagging the appropriate amount of food for each meal), but also when offering seconds at a meal. Hendel says that if a family member consumes the appropriate amount of protein and grains, second helpings should only be fruit and vegetables.
Play: Hendel believes that for every minute a child is allowed to have sedentary TV/video time, he or she should have an equal amount of ‘movement’ time.
“Eating the right foods in the proper serving sizes will help…kids learn fast that their growth and school or athletic performance can directly relate to what they eat,” Hendel explains.
What will make the 4 Habits actually work in your house is practice?
“The first step to realize as a mom is that “what you do” will have far more weight (pun intended) with your kids, than just what you say,” Hendel explains.
She even says that if you, as a mom, make a conscience effort to model a healthy relationship with food, your children will assume that same relationship in their lives and treat food the same at friends houses, at play-dates, and later in life when they prepare their own foods. The goal is to teach your kids an appropriate way to see food so that they can grow up healthy and pass on the lifestyle to their children.
“Do not talk about dieting, and calories all the time – even if you are struggling with your weight – but rather talk about health and vitality as it relates to food. A mom who cooks fresh food and involves the family in researching healthy recipes is speaking volumes of health through easy actions,” Hendel advises.
It’s practicing what you preach and enjoying what you eat.
Now that sounds like a winning and satisfying combination.