I’ve come to the understanding that I eat the way that I eat because of my mother. She taught me how to have a full square meal with meat, lots of veggies and an occasional starch. I wasn’t allowed to have soda, too much candy or McDonald’s as a dietary staple. Although life wasn’t as fun as a kid when I had to eat at home, I’m thankful for what my mother was able to set as an excellent example for my eating habits.
Although I did have this great example, I couldn’t wait until the weekends to get to my god-mother’s house. The pantry’s were full of all kinds of goodness. Oreos, pop-tarts, kool-aid, chips and wonders and wonders of snacks that I would load up inches away from a sugar coma. It was heaven! To this day I always look forward to going over her house because I know I’ll find something good and sinful.
Unfortunately, with a cabinet stocked full of junk food, my younger cousins had cavities before the age of five and although they are pretty fit, I’m not exactly sure if they are getting the nutrition that they need. Not knocking god-mom, she always made a plate for anyone that walked through her door. Food in her house, like many of our homes and our relatives homes, was a symbol of love.
Now how do we turn this love into health? Here are a few tips for parents looking to help their children make healthier eating decisions to prevent diseases like “juvenile” (no longer called juvenile) diabetes and obesity:
1. Cook dinner at home – Whether you freeze pasta sauce or pre-plan your meals a week in advance, there is nothing like a home cooked meal that allows you to sit down at the table with your family. Make it a community event. Ask your kids to help you prepare the meal, grocery shop and learn where there food comes from. Believe me. They will appreciate the time spent together and know how to cook (unlike me who is still just learning how to throw down in the kitchen).
2. Stay away from fast food – If you have to get dinner on the go after along day of work and after-school activities, try to go for the healthier options like Subway sandwiches or pre-cooked roasted chicken from the grocery store and an organic bag of lettuce. All you have to do is put it on a plate and walaah! Instant grub and happy stomachs.
3. Let them choose recipes – Got a taste for something different? Spice things up by letting your kids choose a recipe and cooking the meal themselves. If they’re not old enough to cook in the kitchen, ask them what they want to eat, let them pick a few of your pre-chosen recipe options and allow them to be your official “helper”.
4. Host a weekly dinner – There’s nothing like a community dinner to get your food game on right. Every Monday night family friends host a dinner for folks at church. Everyone brings a home-made dish and joins in for laughs, love and good eating. Let people know you want the dinner to be healthy and folks will bring the best of the best. It will also take a load off of you having to cook everything.
How have you helped your child develop good eating habits? Please share your tips, tricks and even concerns on how to develop a plan.
Sherrell Dorsey is a natural beauty expert, writer, speaker and advocate of health, wellness and sustainability in communities of color. In addition to creating OrganicBeautyVixen.com, Sherrell writes beauty articles for Tyra Banks’s beauty and fashion site TypeF.com, Jones Magazine, MySalonScoop.com and Posh Beauty. Follow Sherrell on twitter at www.twitter.com/organicvixen and connect with her on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/