Sunday, January 26, 2014

5 Things Every Parent Should Know About Feeding Themselves and Their Family

I recently spoke to some parents from my children's school about Intuitive Eating and feeding kids.  Here is some of the topics I discussed.  

1) Food is not good or bad! -- A cookie is just a cookie. It’s value is that of calories from carbohydrates, protein and fat and nothing more. The cookie does not judge you. It’s just a cookie. Negative thinking about food leads to poor long-term eating habits like restriction and binging.

2) The War on Obesity is not one worth fighting -- Health can come in many shapes and sizes. Your health is determined by your behaviors and not your weight. Making weight the focus of health, can lead to a negative body image and an unhealthy relationship with food.

3) Your body image will be passed down to your kids -- Body image is a learned behavior so be conscious of your "body talk". Is there “fat shaming” talk in your house? If you shame/hate your body, you child will learn that behavior.  Learn to love your body no matter what shape or size so that your children learn to love theirs as well. 

4) Children are naturally intuitive eaters so learn to nurture that skill instead of stifling it -- Children are born with the innate ability to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. Forcing your child to eat when they are not hungry or full can override their natural ability to listen to their own bodies cues of hunger and fullness.

5) Adopt a division of responsibility when it comes to feeding your kids -- It is your job to put a healthy meal in front of your children and it’s their job to eat it. Include plenty of "play foods" and "growing foods."  Once the plate is in front of them, let them choose what and how much to eat.  That means try to not bribe them by saying, "Have another bite of chicken or you won't get dessert."

Monday, January 20, 2014

What Is A Healthy Weight?

One of the questions I get asked a lot from my clients is, "What is my healthy weight?"  It is a difficult question and one that doesn't really have a short answer.

If I was a dietitian who didn't believe in what I believe in, I'd probably answer something along the lines of, "Well your healthy weight is when your Body Mass Index (BMI) is in the normal range (18.5 to 24.9)"  But I don't believe that.  If you've read my blog before, you're not surprised that even just typing that phrase, makes me cringe.

So how would I define a healthy weight?  I asked my wife what she thought that meant and I think that her answer pretty much captures how I feel. "Your healthy weight is the weight you are at when you stop worrying about your weight."  I would tweak it just a little to say, "A healthy weight is when you focus on health, not your weight."

But what does that mean and what is health?  That my friends, is where the real conversation begins.  As with all things, the real question might not be what is asked but rather why are you asking?  Why are you wondering about that? Why is finding your healthy weight important?  Why do you include "weight" in the question?  Shouldn't the question simply be about finding your health?  I've shared the graphic below many times and it's on my Facebook page but it really helps illustrate why weight should not be at the center of the question but rather your health should be at the center.

When weight is the focus, we do anything to change it and that can lead to difficult relationship with food.  So let's take weight out of the equation and just focus on health.  

So what does health look like and how do you find it?  Well it's not just one thing it is going to be a whole host of things.  If I had to boil it down to a list (because we all love lists), here's what I would say a "healthy" person is doing on a regular basis (in no particular order). 

1) Connecting with friends and/or family on a regular basis.
2) Finding pleasure and satisfaction in everyday things
3) Moving their body 
4) Finding ways to reduce stress
5) Getting adequate sleep
6) Finding time to stop, unplug and truly rest
7) Listening to their bodies cues on hunger and fullness

Of course the problem is that these things are hard.  There's no simple solution to health and tryting to improve one thing on the above list is not done in a vacuum.  Getting healthy touches all parts of our lives and it takes work. 

What does health look like to you?  Can you take "weight" out of the equation and instead focus on learning to just be healthy?