January 2, 2017
Move it to Lose it!
I have been working in pediatrics for over 15 years. In this time, I have seen a great need to improve the health of families both in nutrition and exercise. We are feeding our children, but is it the best nutrition for their bodies? Our goal at Fort HealthCare’s pediatric clinic is to care for your child’s overall health. As a parent, do you find it hard to dedicate time to specific nutrition and exercise needs you and your family may have? One of the greatest changes I have seen in my years of practice is the lack of time families have to prepare home cooked meals. But what qualifies as a home cooked meal?
Everyone is leading a very busy life and when parents are working it may be difficult to make a “home cooked” meal after work. Believe me, I know- I work full time and have three children. The minute we get home my children are “starving.” If they have a snack, they don’t want dinner but then think they need a bedtime snack. My choices for snacks are not their choices for snacks. I have learned that the more I prepare for the week, which includes meal planning and prepping food ahead, the healthier my family eats each day.
In fact, psychologists and doctors have found that family dynamics can have a huge influence on weight both good and bad:
- Treating to cope: Too often, parents offer treats in an attempt to keep their kids from going bananas. These foods tend to be high in fat, sugar, and salt (chips, sweets, juice boxes). The problem isn’t allowing them an unhealthy snack to keep them at ease. It’s that these substances within the foods are setting off reward centers in the brain, says former FDA commissioner David A. Kessler, MD, author of The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite. This then creates a sense of pleasure and a desire that they then associate with those unhealthy foods. This association can lead to emotional eating. Let’s say your child is sad and you bake him or her a fresh batch of cookies, whenever he or she feels sad again, he or she will think, for example, cookies. Now I’m not saying you should never give your child a cookie, but try not to utilize unhealthy foods as a coping mechanism.
- Bribing and support: Another trap that parents unknowingly fall into is bribing to eat healthier. Have you ever said, “Eat your greens beans and you can have a popsicle?” This sends the signal that ice cream is good and green beans are bad. On occasion spouses can interfere with a partner’s effort to lose weight too. The wife might want to lose weight, but the husband may not, so she may continue to buy unhealthy foods.
On the flip side, family can be a wonderful solution for losing weight. Studies have shown that if 1 member of the family has a weight problem, that he or she is much more likely to lose weight if the whole family adopts a healthy lifestyle.
If you’re looking to improve your family’s health, Fort HealthCare’s team of experts has created the Movin’ and Losin’ Family class to help families like yours. The class is designed to create weekly goals. We work on helping families balance their energy (food) in with their energy (exercise) out. We teach them how to create a nutritious home. In the class, parents learn portions sizes for different ages, how to balance a meal, and how to deal with picky eaters. I try to enforce that as parents we are in charge of what our kids eat, where our kids eat, and when our kids eat. The only part your child should be in charge of is whether they eat and how much. This helps reduce food battles with your children. As a mom, I tell my children to eat their fruits and vegetables, but if their teacher tells them this they sometimes listen better. We also have the exercise component to the class so that families can have fun together while everyone gets a workout. We adjust the exercises for all skill levels and abilities. Families have taken this class several times and continue to give positive feedback. The families love that class teaches both kids and parents how to create a healthy lifestyle. I have taught this class for 3 years and have seen firsthand what kind of positive impact it can make for families.
Come get healthy as a family and enjoy time together that is well spent!
Next sessions begin: Monday, January 16th and/or Tuesday, January 17th