Monday, June 25, 2012

Eat Your Vegetables

So we've been playing around with different foods. And by "we," I mean Hannah. She's eating sweet potatoes, peas and rice quite successfully. Bananas...I think her digestive track is still trying to figure out how to process them, so I've been giving them to her sparingly. Up next, avocados.

It's really important to us that she be exposed to all of these different foods because eating healthy is a must. So far, she's liked everything I've given her. Well, at least after she has a few bites. There's always that initial "what the f..., mom" moment. But after a few spoonfuls, she's come around to everything. I know this won't always be the case. Especially as she gets older. I remember what it was like to be a kid with a plateful of veggies in front of me. 

Pass the dessert.
Oh, wait. I still do that sometimes. Anyway.

I've got a book—Eat Your Vegetables And Other Mistakes Parents Make—that you parentals should read. Natalie Digate Muth is a pediatrician, registered dietitian and mom, which makes her an expert when it comes to "redefining how to raise healthy eaters." A lot of what's in the book isn't really applying to Hannah quite yet, but I'm one to read ahead so I was quite thrilled when Dr. Muth agreed to send me a copy to peek at. I sense it will come in handy in the future, for sure.

Easy to read and peppered with recipes, Dr. Muth focuses on common "mistakes" that parents tend to make while offering ways they can be overcome. I particularly enjoy Chapter 9, which covers "mistake" #9: Enabling the couch potato.

Here's an excerpt:

Newspaper reports buzz about the crisis of a generation of electronic media–obsessed kids. A 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that the average child spends a whopping 53 hours a week—that’s 7 hours and 38 minutes per day—with such electronic media as TV, video games, computers, cell phones, iPads®, and iPods®. Presumably, a child who’s in front of the television for hours on end isn’t getting the recommended minimum 60 minutes of physical activity per day. In fact, if you’re like 80 percent of parents, your kid gets nowhere near this amount of physical activity. But that doesn’t mean that kids of this generation are destined for a lifetime of physical laziness—not even those who already spend a large majority of their free time in sedentary activity and who refuse to get moving. With a little bit of parental foresight and nudging, you can get your kid off the couch and out there truly loving being active. And, in reality, for the health and well-being of your children, you have no other option. Physical activity is essential for more than just preventing and treating obesity. Your kids also need it for optimum academic performance, socialization, and mental health.

So, how do you get a physically inactive child to exercise? Isn’t it kind of like trying to get an unwilling kid to like broccoli? If you push too hard, he’ll just push back and refuse. After all, you can’t move a kid’s muscles for him. You’ll have to take a similar approach as you do with healthy eating—empower your child to actually like breaking a sweat. That starts with understanding a child’s motivators (which may be very different than a parent’s motivators). For most kids, it is all about having fun!

Sports offer kids an excellent opportunity to get moving and have a blast doing it. Regardless of natural ability or level of athletic competition, nearly every child has some experience with sports during childhood. Many participate for the pure joy and fun of the sport and friendly competition. Others play sports competitively in hopes of making the high school team, playing in college, or one day becoming a professional athlete. In any case, participation in sports offers children tremendous health, social, and developmental benefits. Children who play sports not only have a regular opportunity to engage in physical activity, but they also develop life skills including leadership, teamwork, self-discipline, cooperation, and how to overall be a “good sport” whether the game is won or lost.

Parents should take extra care to help facilitate a child’s overall positive experience with sports while recognizing it’s not possible to shield a child from all uncomfortable experiences. Repeated failures, criticism, excessive pressure, and negative peer interactions can leave a child permanently turned off to sports. But identifying the right sport, or sports, can help a child develop a lifelong love of play, physical activity, and friendly competition.

With dozens of sports to choose from, you and your child may not be sure which one to try first. While the only way to know for sure if a child likes a sport or not is to get out there and try it, you should take a few steps to help you narrow down the playing field. Ask yourself:

1) What are my child's greatest athletic strengths?

2) Does my child gravitate toward team activities or individual activities?
3) Am I pressuring my child to play a particular sport because it's my favorite?
4) What's my child's level of coordination and skill?
5) Is my child having fun?

At the end of the day, the key is to get the kids out there and playing. Next time your kids are mesmerized in front of some screen, turn it off and join them for a pickup game of their choice.

Great, right?

If you want to read more, you can pick up a copy of Eat Your Vegetables And Other Mistakes Parents Make from Amazon and other booksellers—or you can leave a comment below telling me what you're doing to raise healthy eaters of your own. I'll pick one winner at random on Friday, June 29, 2012. Winner will be announced on Sunday, July 1, 2012. (<—Seriously? July already?)

You won't get extra entries for this, but follow How to Raise Healthy Eaters on Facebook to be in-the-know. And while you're at it, be sure to follow Daily Dose, too.

1 comment:

Laury said...

What an amazing giveaway!!  I have made it my mission to raise a healthy baby. Ella eats NO processed foods. At all. I make everything for her myself. She has not sugar, not even the natural kind, and she has been doing so wonderful with trying new healthy food! She's SUCH a great eater! I would love to win this book. I really love learning and this would make an amazing addition to our household! I have so many questions as to how things will change once she goes to school, along with the challenges in social situations. I want to keep her as active as possible!

(my blog is for some reason I am signed in here under my old URL)

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