The What, Why, and How of Improving My Family’s Eating Habits

The excitement over my new book about helping picky eaters has definitely worn off.  Now that I have read it 100% and re-read certain parts, the reality of the work and effort that will be required to improve my family’s eating habits is sinking in.  *Sigh*

My son made a statement the other night that really made me think.  He has read a little of the book, and was asking me a question about it.  As I explained my answer, I asked him if he was agreeing with what I was saying.  His response was, “I guess so…but I still don’t understand why I need to change.”  He wasn’t saying this to complain or be defiant; he was simply speaking the truth.  I explained it the best that I could to him, but I’ve been thinking a lot about his statement, and have been challenging myself to clarify not only the “why”  but also the “what” and the “how” in my own mind.

So of course I wanted to share! 🙂

What I am trying to change:

Basically I want our family to eat closer to the USDA recommended amounts for each food group.  I was able to look up the daily recommendations for each one of my kids here.  (Please note that these numbers are for my own kids based on their height and weight.  It may be slightly different for other children even if they are the same age.)

Serving sizes

To put it a little more simply, I am hoping to increase my kids’ consumption (and variety) of fruits and vegetables, and also healthy foods like salmon.  I would also like to decrease their consumption of refined grains, highly processed grains (i.e. sugary cereal), and junk food.

Why I am trying to change this:

This is where I answer my son’s question.  I guess the most obvious answer is for good health.  But I actually get a little bit of push-back from my family members when I site this as the only reason, because we have all been very blessed to be pretty healthy over the years.

But I have other reasons too.  For one thing, I see it as an investment in my children’s future.  When I left home after High School, I knew how to cook some basic things, and I could follow a recipe pretty well.  But looking back, I didn’t really know how to put together very many simple, healthy meals other than a sandwich and some fruit to go with it.  I was pretty picky too, and so when I shopped, I passed by a lot of the fresh fruits and vegetables and instead bought the canned and packaged stuff.  It has taken me a long time to get to a place where I understand the basics, but now that I do, I can teach this information to my kids.  Of course, it will be their choice as to how they use what they know, but at least they will know it.

I also think that even though we all seem healthy, I personally can tell a difference in how I feel when I eat junk verses the good stuff.  If I can get more of the good stuff into my kids, I think they will notice it too, and then want to eat more of it based on that.  I have a friend that told me once that to her it is like fuel for a car.  The better quality fuel you use, the better the car will run.  Our bodies are like that too.

Another reason is that it will relieve a lot of stress and guilt that I feel.  When I serve meals that I know are not good, I always feel guilty.  But I just tell myself that it’s better than nothing, or that I’ll do better later, or I just push that feeling away.  But I know that on the days I eat well, not only do I feel better physically, but I feel better emotionally because there is no guilt.  Feelings of guilt can really weigh a person down!

And finally, I just simply value taking care of my body and my children.  Our bodies are a gift from a loving Heavenly Father, and taking care of them is a good way to say “thank you” for that gift!  My kids are also a gift from Him, and teaching them take care of themselves shows that I value them too.

How I am planning to change:

I think that simple changes are the way to go.  I’ve already tried to implement several of the things I’ve learned from Dr. Kennedy’s book, but I’m having trouble being consistent.  This has caused me to feel a bit overwhelmed.  So I’m taking a step back and am planning to implement just a little bit at a time.  The current plan is to work on each meal individually, starting with breakfast.  Every meal brings it’s own unique set of dynamics and challenges to making it healthy, so that’s why I’m choosing to approach it this way.

What reasons do you have for healthy choices (or changes) you’ve made in your life?

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