Not long ago, I was in a cafe when an overweight, red-faced lady sat down at the table next to me. On her lunch tray was a plate of quiche, fries and coleslaw, a large soft drink and a cream cake. Not much nutrition but lots of fat and loads of calories. Ah well, I thought, long live freedom of choice!
But then her two sons (aged about 10 and 12) arrived and I began to change my mind. Why? Because it seemed to me that both of them were copying their mother.
The elder son had sausages, fries and coleslaw, while the younger had fries. And both had large soft drinks and cream cakes. Oh Yes, and both were very overweight. It wasn’t just puppy fat. It was serious fat.
Maybe I misunderstood the situation, but I couldn’t help feeling that I was watching two boys who hadn’t the faintest idea how to eat properly. If so, then like many kids today, they will probably grow up undernourished and overweight. And instead of learning how to exercise they will sit in front of a TV screen and press remote controls.
As individual adults we have the freedom to eat what we like. And if we choose to eat junk and put on weight, then so be it. But if we have kids, maybe we should be more careful. Because how we eat affects how they eat. Sadly, we parents don’t seem to be doing a very good job. Irish children are less active and more overweight than any other children in Europe. For example, a recent Limerick study revealed that 40 per cent of secondary schoolgirls are seriously overweight. In America, an estimated 3 out of 10 children are now overweight.
Remember, good food and good health comes before everything else. It’s no good lavishing money on our kids, if we don’t teach them the basics of sensible eating. Are you teaching your kids how to eat sensibly? To find out, simply answer these 6 questions.
Question 1. Do you talk to your kids about food?
For example, have you explained to them that fruit and vegetables stop them from getting sick? Have you told them that sandwiches and whole grain cereals make them strong while cakes and candy can make them overweight and weak?
Question 2. Do you make it easy for your kids to eat healthily?
For example, do you keep lots of breads and healthy sandwich fillers in stock? Do you buy lots of low-fat milk and fruit juices? Or do you stuff the fridge with candy, cream cakes and other junk?
Question 3. Do you help your kids to eat lots of fruit?
For example, do you make lots of fruit salads? Do you keep bowls of chopped fruit in the fridge for your kids to nibble at? Or do you put them off fruit for life by depending on a bowl of sad-looking apples and oranges?
Question 4. Do you help your kids to eat green vegetables?
And if they hate green vegetables, do you hide the taste by making lots of home made soup? Do you cook casseroles with lots of different vegetables and beans? Or do you allow them to get away without eating any green vegetables at all?
Question 5. Do you prepare healthy lunches for them to take to school?
For example, do you give them lots of thickly cut sandwiches with lower fat fillings, bananas, low fat yogurts and orange juice? Or do you feed them TV advertised junk?
Question 6. Do you and your co-parent set your kids a good example by eating properly?
Or are you getting a bit lazy and letting yourselves go?
Ideally, you should be able to answer Yes to each of these main questions. If you can’t, why not make a new start. Next time you go shopping, buy less junk and more real food. The sort that fills your kids full of vitality and health without making them fat.
Remember, your kids depend on you to teach them how to eat properly. So look after them and (just as important) look after yourself!
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