A parent must walk to talk about healthy eating and lifestyle habits
Something disturbed me on Saturday morning. I usually visit our local bakery to buy a loaf of bread for my family to eat during the week. Sometimes I might grab some sourdough rolls. We’re not big fans of pastries or other sweets. The worst of my purchases are fun buns with a bit of icing on the top — but it’s a rarity. But this morning, you couldn’t take the shocked look off my face. A father, and his daughter, no more than eight years old, holding not one but two bottles of soft drink, asking his daughter what she wanted for ‘breakfast’ in a bakery. “Would you like a finger bun or a cream roll?” he asked. I couldn’t take it any longer and had to leave. It’s “shocking parenting 101.” I don’t like to judge, but this is not how children should be brought up -period! This little girl was already overweight, and the time was 7.30 am. Soft drinks and cream buns at 7.30 am? Is there something wrong with this picture? We have millions of people touched by diabetes, heart disease and obesity!! There has got to be more education, more care factor and a lot more awareness in schools, and as a matter of urgency, some funded parenting classes on better nutrition. This breeds a world of people who will, in turn, exhaust our health systems as they spiral toward creating an obesity epidemic in our younger generation. Eating habits are essential, and it starts with your habits at home. Some children will always gain more weight than others — just like adults. Eating habits are the primary cause of this, far more than physical activity. Researchers have found that how children relate to food and eating is critical. For example, one study shows that BMI increases more in children where food triggers their eating behaviour. Food intake is controlled more by the sight and smell of food and less by the feeling of hunger. Children that respond more enthusiastically to food will eat more, although they may not be hungry. However, researchers have not investigated this to discover the underlying factors. A higher BMI in children leads to becoming even more triggered by food over time. As they age, they become even less able to stop eating when full. I’d consider this a huge problem. Scientists cannot answer why this is the case, so more studies are needed. Could this habit stem from childhood? Are parents at fault for inflicting less-than-ideal habits on their children? Children of this nature need the assistance of their parents to help regulate their food and food choices. But how can a parent do this if they aren’t equipped with the knowledge? It seems to be the underlying problem. Until more research is uncovered, we can’t make assumptions about why this occurs. I am being very judgemental in this case — and that’s because of my own parent’s death due to bad lifestyle habits. As the journey unfolds towards more research, education, and awareness of the impact parents’ eating habits have on their kids, we can expect the numbers of childhood obesity and disease to grow. We can set the stage for our kids and encourage them to eat well and stay active. What’s your experience with parenting and healthy eating? How have your healthy habits rubbed off on your children?
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