As a dad of 3 young girls, I can confidently say that being a parent is one of the greatest joys in life. It’s also one of the greatest challenges! There’s plenty of advice in print and online about how to deal with those challenges well – looking at behaviour, education, play and everything else imaginable.
But perhaps you’ve never thought of getting advice about eating well? I’ve found it to be a hugely significant part of parenting. If you’re thinking about this for the first time then I’ve pulled together some tips to help, but it’s worth checking out sites like Mumsnet and WebMD, or the Twitter handle @parenting, for more information.
Here are three tips I’ve picked up to help your whole family develop a healthy relationship with food:
1. Shop in the right places
When you shop at the supermarket, start at the edges where the fruit and vegetables are, not in the middle where the processed foods and confectionary tend to be.
And when you’re doing the shop, try the grandmother test: if she would recognise what what you are about to buy as food, then it’s probably is OK to buy! (The one exception is sugar – eat as little as possible! And remember that most ready meals contain sugar, especially low fat ones.)
2. Eat at the right times
Eat nothing (or as little as possible) after 8pm. Research has shown that eating late at night can have a negative impact on your weight. Yes, I occasionally have dinners in restaurants, and the table is often booked for 7.30pm or 8pm. But that’s occasional – if I was doing this three or four times a week I would be noticing the impact.
3. Create a safe environment for your children
If you have children, here’s something researchers have found that will give you pause for thought: children are not able to tell the difference between a TV show and a commercial until they are eight years old (reported by Dr. Robert Lustig in his book Fat Chance, Chapter 3).
What are your children being told about fast food and sugar, on TV or elsewhere? And bearing that in mind, how can you create a safe environment for your children at home, from a food point of view? Talk with your partner about this if applicable.
So there are my three tips. Do you have any to add that you’ve found helpful as a busy mum or dad? Let us know in the comments below!