Helping Us and Our Kids Eat Well and Be Well

As parents and grandparents we want to help our children develop a healthy relationship with food. In this crazy food culture this can be a challenge! Not to mention, many of us grownups are struggling with our own relationship with food.

Let’s consider a few things that can help:

 Relax! Your family can develop your own balanced ways of living with food that accommodate your schedules and also honor your health. Your family doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. Take a deep breath and believe that you can do this.

 Enjoy using the table again. Do the best you can with your schedule, but try to make family meal time a priority. Turn off the TV, phone, and computer for thirty minutes. Put on some music and enjoy being together. Keep conversations positive and mealtime relaxed. {This is never the time to discuss stressful issues}.

 Table conversation: Families whose discussions center around the food become overweight more frequently than families that discuss other things at the table. I know a Dad who thinks about interesting stuff to discuss at the table as he is driving home. That’s good work!

 Don’t mention “clean your plate”. It teaches children to disregard their body’s natural messages of hunger and fullness and leads to overeating.

 No teasing or negative comments about food, weight, dieting or people. Period.

 Have a brainy breakfast of protein every day. Greek yogurt, scrambled eggs and cheese, grainy toast with peanut or almond butter is more effective than a bowl of cereal or bagel for their brain power – and yours!

 Use kid-sized plates, utensils and cups. Over-served kids eat more and take bigger bites. Make kids meals kid-sized.

 Keep great choices close at hand. Have fruit, nuts, grainy crackers and cheese, etc. in the house for snacking. Cut way back on nutrient-poor foods. This may feel like a big deal at first. The trick is for the adults to be pleasant and not too pushy about the change. It may take eight to twelve times of being presented a new food before a child will try it.

 Completely restricting certain foods is a bad idea. This makes that “bad” food too special and can lead to sneaking and shame, which can lead to disordered eating.

 Don’t make a power-struggle out of food. No one wins.

 Children learn by watching us. Do whatever it takes to eat slowly, mindfully and pleasantly. If you inhale your food, your kids will too.

 Let kids help. Children can choose new foods at the grocery, help set the table and serve themselves.

 Don’t use food as reward. Hugs, kind words or a trip to the park are all good choices. Feed the ducks – not the kids.

 Don’t use food to silence tears or fits. Children are supposed to cry and be upset sometimes. Comforting kids with food sets up an unhealthy food attachment.  Use words and kindness and a reassuring touch.

Food is a good gift! Adopt a family food philosophy that’s fun, balanced, relaxed and effective for everyone’s good health. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed about this whole food thing. Take a deep breath, relax and trust yourself. Pick a few things from the list you can do this week and start moving forward. The rest will take care of itself.

Terrific Travel Tools from Chad

I really don’t care for business traveling.  I’d rather be home.  However, there has always been one thing I have always loved about traveling on business.   If you are like me, you already know the answer:  the company pays for all of my meals and the choices are endless.

I was recently away on a business trip.  This was my first trip after reclaiming my status of being a mindful eater.  To say that I was a little nervous would be like saying that the Grand Canyon is a little crack in the earth.  What was I going to do without all of my safeguards?  At home, I was set for success.  My fridge was full of things I enjoyed and that were good for my health.  People at work knew that I was working on being more healthy.  Here I am in a city with no one else, it’s dinner time, and I’m really hungry.  Thankfully, I remembered to bring my toolbox.  The good thing is that it is always with me, it only requires that I use the tools in the box.

Tool 1:  When my meal is brought out, immediately ask for a to-go-box.  Out of sight, out of mind.

Tool 2:  Remember that the restaurant does not have a clue about me or my needs.  Just because they bring out a plate that I could climb on and take a nap when I’m finished, it doesn’t mean I have to clean my plate.

Tool 3:  This was my favorite and I may have to trademark it.  I would take a picture of the food that I either left on my plate or that I took with me.  This allowed me to celebrate the following day on the fuel that I did not consume and remind me of how good I felt leaving the restaurant satisfied vs. being miserable.

Here are some of many victories: One night I had dinner at a Japanese Steakhouse.  Rather than eating it all, I was able to enjoy it that evening and the next day for lunch.

At my favorite lunch establishment, Chick-fila I had an open faced chicken sandwich, half of my waffle fries and a diet coke.  I don’t regret the calories I left on my plate. I’d rather them be in the trash than in me.

And here is a bag of Doritos that comes with the $2 Value menu at Taco Bell.  This bag contains 150 calories.  If I did nothing else, other than not eating the Doritos at lunch each day, I would release 15 pounds in a year.

I returned from my trip feeling like I had just conquered Mt. Everest.  I had a victory in the battle against food.  To top it off, I actually lost weight while I was on the trip.  I used to think that all my meals were paid for; they didn’t cost me anything.  I was wrong.  Those free meals cost me a lot.  They cost me feeling good, they cost me being in control, and they cost me my health.  I hope this will be a tool that you can put in your toolbox the next time you are traveling whether it is for business or pleasure.

Show Up to Eat – You'll Have to Buy New Pants!

One of the big reasons Intuitive Eaters stop eating when they are comfortably satisfied [resulting in staying at a comfortable weight] is because they are indeed SATISFIED. Research tells us that feeling satisfied involves tasting, chewing, swallowing, connecting and spending enough time eating for our brain to know that we are well-fueled. This process takes around 20 minutes and involves all our senses. We also know when we eat this way consistently we release weight over time.

One of the reasons two-thirds of us struggle with our weight is that we are often distracted when we’re eating so we eat too much before we realize it’s happened. It’s hard to hear fullness if everything around us is louder that our body’s fullness signal…too bad we don’t have a satisfaction alarm that’s louder than the other noise in our lives! Good news is that we can indeed hear our satisfaction signal if we’re tuned in.

Take a look at The Average American Eating Habits:

• 66% of us eat with the TV on

• 60% of us eat with the TV on and a cell phone at the table

• 40% of us eat with the TV on, a cell phone and a computer at the table

• 33% of us eat with the TV, cell phone, computer and a magazine or paper at the table

Eating when you eat makes regular room in your day for refreshment, reflection and restoration. This can only be a good thing.

Do the stats above surprise you? What helps you show up and enjoy a meal?

Time for an Advertising Revolution

We don’t focus on cultural issues here often but this one blew me away…

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is now, by far, the largest funder of work in this country on childhood obesity. They’re spending $100 million a year on the problem. The food industry spends that amount every year … by Jan. 4, just marketing junk food — just to children.

– Kelly Brownell, Professor at Yale, speaking on NPR May 14th

The Pain of Staying the Same

Wow! We had a great gathering of workshop “grads” last night! I was inspired and encouraged by the stories, experiences and courage of my friends. There were many lessons to be gleaned from our time together but there’s one in particular I want to mention here.

People who begin to change things all come to one place first – that place where the pain of things staying the same is greater than the pain of doing things differently.

Let’s be honest – doing things differently is painful, especially in the beginning before it starts to pay off. It’s MUCH easier to keep eating that bowl of ice cream on that couch in those cozy pajama s every night at 10 than it is to stop. It’s much easier to stand and wait for the elevator than to walk up four flights of stairs. But people who used to do these things are now doing things differently because they got tired of things staying the same. It’s not that they’re stronger or have more will-power or are more capable. They just got sick and tired of feeling heavy or weak or uncomfortable in their clothes – and that pain drove them to change things. And you can too.

Yes, doing things differently can be painful but staying the same, losing more and more strength and energy and stamina with each passing year, is too. Much more painful actually.

As I listened to story after story last night – of change, of new found health, of minds becoming free of food-preoccupation, of pounds released and energy gained – I heard a theme. The story often began with “I was sick of how things were”.

If you are too – here are a few thoughts:

 Begin to focus, really focus, on how you want to feel. Daydream about you in that healthier body. Make that daydream vivid!
 Now, think about how you feel right now – what do you NOT like about how you feel? Identify some of the things that are keeping you there.
 It may not be pleasant, but imagine staying where you are right now…for the rest of this year…and the next…and the next…if nothing changes.
 Instead of focusing on the pain of giving up ice cream at 10 p.m. begin to focus on how great it’s going to feel when things are different; and things will be different, very different, as you do things differently.
 determine to stay supported. You’re worth it. Spend some time and some money and some energy on getting well. It will be much less time and money and energy than you’ll spend being sick if nothing changes.
 Decide on the things you’re going to do differently and keep doing them. Give it time. Give it your full concentration.

Time goes by quickly. Very quickly.

What has been your experience with this statement: For us to change, the pain of things staying the same must be greater than the pain of doing things differently.