Every mother looks at her child and thinks, “There really is nothing I would change about this precious little human. I love squishy baby rolls and extra chubby cheeks, and I know that I am not alone!” Topics like childhood obesity always feel so heavy. It’s not the most entertaining conversation to have with your children at the dinner table. We would much rather talk about weekend festivities or how much Halloween candy everyone is going to collect next month. Is the topic so difficult because the thought of critiquing a child’s weight seems so insensitive? Or is the weight of knowing that our child’s eating habits are directly related to the food we provide the eerie culprit?
Motherhood is busy, and I wouldn’t be real if I denied that there is nothing more tempting than convenience meals when you feel like you are being pulled in so many directions. No matter how long that Chick-fil-A line is, it still seems easier than whipping up a family-size meal at the end of an exhausting day. Some days you need a bit of extra peace and quiet, so an iPad or the kid’s favorite television shows on repeat seem like the best option to maintain your sanity. However, one in three children in the United States is overweight or obese. It’s never the once-in-awhile splurge on sweets or lack of physical activity that lead to these alarming statistics, it’s the repetition of these behaviors.
Are we expected to pick all of our produce fresh from our backyards, wake up an extra hour early (when we didn’t get much sleep in the first place) to make a perfectly balanced breakfast, and go for a family jog every day after school to become the monumental generation of mothers that changes this statistic? Of course not! Childhood obesity can be prevented and tackled by making small and consistent healthy lifestyle changes, and since I am the designated grocery shopper for our family, they all start with the almighty mom!
There is something about a strict set of guidelines that is just so unappealing when motherhood is completely unpredictable. On some days, my 4-year-old doesn’t want to eat certain foods, my 1-year-old’s preferences change at every meal, and as a pregnant mother, I am not always craving the glorified green smoothie. However, I have found a couple of things that work well for my busy household, and it’s all about balance.
I keep a huge bowl of grab-and-go fresh produce on my kitchen table and whenever the kids want a snack, they are always encouraged to pick something out of the produce bowl. My husband and I even like to make a game out of it and ask the kids to find a fruit or vegetable of a specific color!
The pantry is probably the kids’ favorite space in the entire house because no matter how many times they eat, it’s only a matter of time before I hear the door crack open and someone yell, “Mommy, I am hungry!” If you were to look in our pantry, you would see a nice mix between “crunchy” all-organic options and CHOCOLATE! The whole grains are plentiful, there are raw nuts galore, but we never vilify certain food items. It’s okay to have an occasional cookie, however, we enjoy a rainbow of fruits and vegetables weekly. We enjoy a little frozen yogurt on a Friday night, but we eat our fro-yo while going for a long walk on the beach. Screen time is limited during the week, and on the weekends, we focus on frequent outdoor activities. I lean more on the approach that a healthy lifestyle doesn’t always mean you have to deprive yourself or your little ones of exciting and fun foods, but instead, balance them out with other nutritionally dense options.
What is your mama approach to maintaining a healthy household and combating childhood obesity?