Ten Golden Guidelines for Raising a Healthy Eater

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 8.49.00 AMThese ten guidelines from Dr. Ann Kulze, MD are applicable to the Corporate environment as well as the home environment:
1. Be a healthy role model.  Of all the things a parent can do for their kids, role modeling is the most powerful. The foods that enter in their mouths of parents are much more powerful than any words that come out of their mouths.
2. Make sure the home is a haven for healthy eating.  The foods in our immediate environment have the greatest impact on what we eat.
3. Speak up, but keep it positive. Parents need to talk to their children regularly about healthy eating.  The conversation is imperative, but the key to success lies in how parents couch the conversation and in their tone of voice.  Always use positive language in an upbeat voice.  Look for every opportunity to talk about the amazing qualities of healthy foods. How good it tastes is the most important quality to emphasis.  Strictly avoid harsh tones and negative talk.  Studies consistently show that negative reactions will backfire.  If you can't say anything positive, don't say anything at all.
4. Sit down for family meals.  Getting back to the family dinner table could be transformative to the health of our nation. Family dinners mean superior nutrition for all (more fruits and veggies, fiber, and calcium while consuming less sodium and unhealthy fats), better parent-child relationships, less obesity-risk, better social well-being, improved mental health, and reduced risky adolescent behavior.  In fact, of all the things that families can do to reduce risky behavior by teens, sitting down for family meals is the most influential factor.
5. Limit TV. The average American family cumulatively views 8 hours of TV per day.  TV watching is correlated to obesity and poor nutrition.  The correlation between TV watching and obesity is nearly as strong as between smoking and lung cancer.  Also, when food is consumed during TV watching, a lot more is consumed that would be otherwise. A recent study reported that the average child consumes 20-25% of their calories in front of the TV.  40% of American families report watching TV during dinnertime.  Get TVs out of kids bedrooms (68% of kids have one in their bedrooms), and limit nonacademic screen time to 1-2 hours per day for children over the age of 2.  For kids under 2, no screen time is advised.
6. Limit ultra-palatable foods.  Human taste buds have a high affinity for sugar, fat, and salt, because it provided our hunter gatherer ancestors a survival advantage.  In today's modern food landscape, these traits can be problematic.  Combinations of sugar, fat and salt are even more difficult to eat in moderation, because they stimulate reward-centers in our brain (produces dopamine, etc.).
7. Everyone eats 3 meals a day.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner.  For optimal brain function,  three meals (and two snacks) ensure that we get all three of the macronutrients and 42 plus micronutrients that our bodies need.
8. Limit snacking (on unhealthy foods).  Record snacking is driving obesity rates.  American kids are munching between meals three times a day (instead of twice), and are consuming 27% of their daily calories as snacks.  More alarming are the foods that they are eating for snacks. Dessert foods are the leading source of calories for snack foods followed by salty snacks followed by sugary drinks and candy.  Dead last in terms of consumption for snacks are healthy fruits and veggies. 🙁
Snacks should be 250 calories or less and should be healthy.  They should be be eaten mindfully and never in front of the TV.
9. At least one cook in the family.  It is virtually impossible to raise a healthy eater without regular access to home cooked meals. If you are regularly consuming processed foods and restaurants maintaining a healthy weight is nearly impossible.  Basic proficiency is all that is required as well as some basic cooking equipment.  Learn by doing and remember that attitude is everything.  Please see here for Nurture's basic cooking resources.
10. Create a culture of health. This guideline flows from the previous points. If health is a core value, a culture of health will naturally develop.  Do whatever it takes to build healthy practices based on the above.
(Source:  Dr. Ann Kulze, MD, June 17th, 2015 WELCOA webinar).
To your good health!

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