It’s hard for parents to find time to exercise when balancing work and family time. When you finally think you’ve got time for a workout, the kids are pestering you to play. So what’s the solution? Have a KID WORKOUT! In this video, I show you 11 exercise ideas that will give you quality time with your kid AND a tough workout. These exercises are suited to my physical ability, and what my daughter is comfortable with, so adjust the workout to suit your needs and abilities. Make sure you consider your body’s limitations and your child’s age and physicality, then adjust the exercises accordingly. The main idea is just to get moving together so everyone is happy and healthy. Have fun!
I know it’s inspirational for many people, and may motivate some overweight, unhealthy viewers to start exercising and eating nutritious food, but I still don’t like The Biggest Loser. Watching obese people being yelled at, humiliated and slave-driven through intense workouts is not my cup of tea. Yet, on one of maybe four occasions when I have seen some of the show, I heard something that has stuck with me ever since. One of the female contestants was pouring her heart out to her militant trainer. She told him and the whole world watching that when she was a kid, her father was a severe heroin addict for a few years, and they hardly had any money for food. Every single day, her father would give her a couple dollars and send her to the fish and chips shop to buy chips – all they could afford. I was astonished. This young girl had eaten nothing but French fries (chips) for three whole years, and she was still alive! Yes, she was morbidly obese and emotionally scarred, but she was a living, walking, talking, 26-year-old woman.
Why did this affect me so much? Because I had a 2 year old daughter, who I was learning to take care of and feed well. I fed her only real whole animal and plant foods with no additives, preservatives, pesticides, chemicals, trans fats or refined sugars. I fed her three meals a day and two snacks a day. I sat with her at mealtimes for 30 minutes to an hour, patiently waiting for her to eat as much as she needed for her nutritional and hunger needs so her immune system could be strong and all her bodily functions would run smoothly. It’s amazing the satisfaction a mother gets from feeding her kids. And the dissatisfaction a mother feels when her kids aren’t well-fed. Sometimes she would want only one particular food and nothing else. Sometimes, she wouldn’t want to eat much or anything at all. As with any mother, this worried and frustrated me immensely. She needs to eat. She needs her nutrition. She’s going to get cranky, tired, sick, underweight, malnourished, diseased!
Yet, here was this lovely – yes, obese and distraught and probably riddled with disease – but lovely young woman who had lived on salted potatoes fried in trans fats for three whole years. Not a single piece of meat or vegetables. Not much nutrition AT ALL. And she was fine. She was alive.
This example of the human body’s resilience made me realise that we parents need to relax a bit about feeding our kids. All we need to do is offer them plenty of nutritious food, then let them decide if and how much they want to eat. If they don’t want to eat their dinner this time, that’s okay. They will survive! Our kids won’t starve to death!
Kids Can Survive on Chips, But it Doesn’t Mean They Should
Too often, when our kids won’t eat what we’ve given them, our desperation to feed them makes us run back to the fridge or pantry for something else. Anything else, just eat, eat, eat! I know this is why parents feed their children frozen chicken nuggets, boxed macaroni and cheese, processed snacks and other ‘kid food’. I know this is why I see families out to lunch with the parents tucking into a beautiful salmon salad and the kids eating fries and a chocolate shake. The irony is that our parental instincts are to nourish the kids so their little minds and bodies thrive, but we end up feeding them nutritionally void ‘kid food’ that actually harms their minds and bodies. If we really thought hard about the damage junk food does to kids, we’d realise it’s better for them not to eat at all, than to eat crap. After all, though this woman on The Biggest Loser had shown me an example of someone who survived on chips, she also was an example of how that upbringing led to poor dietary habits which greatly damaged her physical and emotional health.
Our bodies are resilient; they can store energy and nutrients for times of famine. Your child’s survival instincts are strong and she won’t let herself starve. So continue to serve up wholesome meals and snacks, provide a good example of healthy eating, and don’t resort to junk food just to stuff your kids stomach with something. You are doing an amazing job nourishing your kids, especially compared to a drug addict who cannot scrape together the money or effort to provide food for their family. And that drug addict’s daughter is doing fine. And soon, thanks to reality TV, she might even become better than fine.
Due to the popularity of my article, 10 Ways to Kids Who Eat Healthier Than You, I present to you 10 more tips you can implement whether your kids are just starting out on solid foods or are already driving you mad with their fussy eating habits. Of course, all kids are individuals and thus have different tastes and personalities when it comes to food and mealtimes. However, as with all aspects of child-rearing, we parents and carers are the main influence on what kind of habits and tastes a child develops as they grow. So here are 10 more ways to a healthy, food-loving family.
11. Assume Kids Will Like Everything
When was it decided that kids only liked bland non-gourmet food? Why are people surprised when they see a baby eating oysters, liver, or octopus? An adult may have decided that a food tastes gross or isn’t a popular food, but babies don’t know that. Babies and children have zero preconceived notions about which foods are gross or yummy, so actually they are likely to enjoy more types of foods than adults who already have ingrained habits. A child’s palate is like a blank canvas open to new experiences in order draw his own picture of the culinary world. Offer your child a variety of savoury, ethnic, nutritious flavour-filled foods and let them learn what they like.
12. Don’t Be a Stickler for Manners
If you want your child to love food, then mealtimes need to be enjoyable. It is hard for a child to explore and enjoy his food when he is constantly being scolded for messiness, loudness, and fidgeting. Kids are by nature messy, loud and fidgety, so if they can’t be themselves at mealtimes, they won’t be able to relax and eat. Of course, when eating in public, a child can be lovingly reminded to use an indoor voice or a napkin, but there is plenty of time in later childhood to develop whatever manners a family desires. For now, just let your toddler enjoy his food.
13. Don’t Guilt or Pressure Kids
Never guilt or pressure a child into eating, as this only creates a negative association with food and mealtimes that will gradually make healthy eating habits impossible. There are probably some foods that you don’t like to eat, so realise that your child is the same and will enjoy food more when he can make his own taste distinctions. A better mealtime rule to model is to always try a bite first, then they can decide if they like it or not. In addition, forcing a child to eat more than they want or to always “clean their plate” disregards the child’s own fullness signals and can lead to overeating issues as they won’t know when to stop anymore. Simply give the child plenty of time to eat, and when it’s clear they are finished, end the mealtime.
14. Minimise Distractions
Even the best eaters can forget all about their food if there is something more interesting going on. Kids are easily distracted, so turn off the TV, take toys off the table, and save serious adult discussions for later. Provide an example by putting away your newspaper and mobile phone while at the table. If your child continually asks to play with trucks during a meal, be consistent in saying something like, “Sounds fun, we’ll play with trucks after breakfast.”
15. Go Sugar-Free the First Couple of Years
As I said before, your baby’s palate is a blank canvas with no ideas about how things will taste and what they will like. So don’t assume that he will want a cupcake or chocolate shake just because YOU think it’s delicious. As soon as he has sampled the sweet, addictiveness of sugar, of course he will want more. But until that first taste, your baby has an advantage in that he doesn’t feel like he is missing out on sugary foods because he doesn’t know what they taste like yet. So leave him with that advantage for the first couple of years, so he can explore more nutritious, satiating and energy-giving foods without the distraction of sugar.
16. Don’t Glorify and Villainize Foods
Of course, if you act like sugary sweets are an exciting indulgent treat, they will gain your child’s attention and desire. Likewise, if we make eating vegetables seem like a chore, your child will adopt that mentality. Once again, remember that your behaviour and attitudes toward food are the main example for your child’s developing beliefs and eating habits, so don’t glorify or villainize foods haphazardly. For nutritious foods, model excitement and enjoyment instead of disdain. With sweets, both attitudes may create desire, as kids want not only what you want, but also what they can’t have. So instead of making sweets the ultimate treat or a naughty indulgence, treat them simply as foods that “we only eat occasionally”.
17. Limit Grains and Starch for Kids
Sweets are not the only things that will distract your child with sugary, addictiveness. The carbohydrates, or sugars, in grains, starchy foods and even fruit are also very addictive and are easy to fill up on. You may notice that your child will devour their bread, rice, potatoes or pasta and even ask for more, then be too full to eat their meat and vegetables. (Adults do this too!). Make meat and vegetables the main components of your child’s plate at main mealtimes, and they will learn to like a variety of healthy foods while getting a full range of essential nutrients.
18. Just Say No to Drinks, Except Water
A good diet includes plenty of water, so don’t forget to include water at every meal, and take a water bottle or sippy cup for your child everywhere you go. Other drinks, however, do not provide nutrition but instead can cause bad habits and health problems for your child. Juice and sodas are little more than pure sugar, and most types of milk cause a variety of health issues. There are a few nutritious drink exceptions, such as freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices, raw milk and herbal teas, but in general, if you only serve your child water from the very beginning, that is all they will come to expect and enjoy.
19. Stock Up on Whole Food Snacks
Not only can kids eat a huge amount of food relative to their body size, they metabolize their food quickly and thus are hungry often. Snacks between meals are essential, and should be as nutritious as main meals, not food from a packet. Choose whole fruits and raw veggies over processed fruit snacks or boxed dried fruits; choose nuts, seeds, plain yoghurt and raw cheese over crackers, rice cakes and processed dairy. Then carry your snacks with you everywhere you so you’ll always have healthy food on hand for your hungry youngster.
20. Re-read these 20 tips regularly
Often, we start out strong with new habits, only to forget about them quickly and go back to our old ways. It takes time to cement life-long health habits so it helps to continually remind yourself of your goals and how to get there. If your goal is to have kids who eat healthier than (or as healthy as) you, post these tips on your bulletin board or bookmark the pages in your favourites. If you’ve read this far, congratulations on taking the time to work towards a healthier family!
More on feeding kids well:
Primal Kids – Real Food for Growing Bodies
Primal Baby – Baby Led Weaning – No More Mashed Up Food
It’s right up there with temper tantrums and erratic sleep patterns, the most common complaints from parents, my kids won’t eat healthy food. If you relate to this, you probably resort to trickery and bribery to get your kids to eat vegetables, prepare separate kid meals daily, and resign yourself to the fact that all your kids will eat is chips and sausages. As frustrating as this can be, the good news is that kids are not born with a natural aversion to vegetables or an instinctive desire for sweets. Parents and carers, YOU – are the main influence on a child’s eating habits, and with the right approach, a healthy influence can easily be passed on, without frustration, bribes or extra cooking. Here are 10 ways to a healthy, food-loving family.
1. Be a Good Example for Your Kids
From birth to around age 7, children learn through imitation, an instinct that is so strong it rarely can be overpowered by direct teaching. What this means is that if we say one thing and do the other, a child will instinctively follow what we do, not what we say. So if you want your kids to eat nutritious meals, you need to do the same and let your kids see it. When you eat your nutritious food, enjoy it and talk honestly about the foods you find delicious. Show more enthusiasm for lamb cutlet and broccoli night than you do for take-away food night, and your child will learn that healthy food is the norm, while junk food is only eaten occasionally.
2. Eat Together
The best way to be a good example is to eat with your kids as often as possible. Kids love to spend time with their parents and carers, so make mealtimes a happy, relaxed time that kids will look forward to. Babies will imitate the motions of putting food in the mouth, good chewing and eventually cutlery use, and then grow into toddlers who inherit their parents’ enjoyment of food. High chairs, strict manners, and formal family meals at the table are not necessary…all that matters is that you are together and you make it work for your family. For example, if your child eats dinner too early because of bedtime, eat a small portion with your child, and then eat again when the rest of the family gets home.
3. Serve the Same Meal for Everyone
Why do we need kid’s menus? Who decided that kids will only eat macaroni and cheese and chicken fingers? There is absolutely no need to prepare separate food for your child or even your baby. Obviously food can be cut into smaller pieces or steamed a bit longer for softness, and strong or spicy sauces can be added to adult plates at the table if needed. But by always eating the same food, you are showing your child that there is no difference between food for adults and food for kids. Don’t fret about the exceptions…your child will happily take your word for it that wine is only for adults.
4. Provide, then Let The Kids Decide
My nutritionist friend’s motto for feeding kids is: With food, the parent decides what and when; the child decides if and how much. As the parent, you are in charge of choosing what your family eats, so make one meal for everyone and don’t run back into the kitchen to get something different for a finicky child. The child then decides if and how much of that meal they want to eat. Provide a variety of foods and don’t worry, they won’t let themselves starve. If your child demands a different meal, gently but firmly remind them that “This is what we are all having for dinner”, and they will eventually learn to appreciate what you have provided. By allowing them to decide if and how much they eat, they will learn their own tastes and how to gauge their fullness.
5. Keep Mealtimes Routine
We all know that kid’s sleep habits thrive on regular bedtime rituals, and mealtimes are the same. If meals are roughly at the same time each day, kids are less likely to be tired or wound-up at the table, because playing and sleeping have their own time around meals. Keeping regular times and rituals for daily meals also gives kids a feeling of security and stability as the child not only knows what to expect, but can look forward to it. Kids delight in rituals, from helping set the table, getting the bib from the cupboard, and choosing which water cup to use, to giving thanks for the food, or blowing out the candle after dinner.
6. Include Plenty of Variety
Since your child won’t be ordering his meals from a menu, or selecting his favourites from the fridge, give your child the pleasure of choice by offering as much variety as possible. This is two-fold: the first is providing variety throughout the week to keep things interesting and give exposure to many types of foods; the second is providing variety on each plate. The more types of foods you offer on one plate, the more colourful and exciting the meal, and the more likely there will be something that the child will like. Plus, kids can discover which foods they prefer, which go well together, and enjoy the satisfaction of having choices.
7. Allow Plenty of Time for the Kids to Eat
Unlike many adults who tend to rush through meals in 10 minutes, kids take their time getting through their food. This is where parents should learn from their child’s example and slow down. Give kids time to finish their meals without rushing them or trying to force feed. If lunch often lasts 40 minutes for your child, then plan for it. Treat mealtimes as an activity, not a chore to be rushed through. In addition, exercise patience in the time it sometimes takes for your child to acquire interest or a taste for a certain food. They may not like green beans today, but tasted change over time, as long as there’s no pressure.
8. Involve Kids in Purchase and Preparation
Let your kids help you when buying and preparing food, or at the very least, talk to them about what foods you are putting in the shopping basket or chopping for the casserole. Even small babies can hold and smell vegetables and herbs at the market, and watch you create dishes in the kitchen. The more kids feel familiar with various foods, they more interest they will take in them on their plates. In no time, they will be excited about finding the broccoli at the market and remembering that pumpkin goes into their favourite soup.
9. Start Early…or Start Over
As soon as your baby is ready to try solid foods, make nutritious shared meals the norm for your family. Even if at first your baby only plays with or spits out their food, they are still learning about nutritious whole foods and healthy eating habits from the start. If you didn’t start early and now have a finicky toddler, it’s not too late. Just start over with your approach, using this helpful article! Whether starting early or starting over, the book “Baby-Led Weaning” is a great resource for introducing food without purees or spoon-feeding. The benefits are endless for babies AND parents.
10. Make it Delicious and With Love
When your child refuses to eat his greens, look at them, taste them, and ask yourself, “Would I want to eat that?” Of course your child will choose junk food over vegetables if the veggies are over-cooked and bland. Children have taste buds too, and so they desire delicious, flavourful meals. Unfortunately, in our time-poor, fast-food, pre-bottled society, we have forgotten how to prepare nutritious meals that are also delicious. A simple tip is to use some of nature’s flavour enhancers at every meal: various fresh and dried herbs, a wealth of spices, lemon juice, olive oil, many types of vinegar, unrefined sea salt, and good-quality real butter. Serve delicious meals and your kids will not only love nutritious food, they will appreciate the time and love you put into nourishing them.
|Baby Led Weaning