Far too often, when I unpack my kids’ lunch bags after school, I find most of their lunch still in the bag. I ask why… “They needed us out of the classrooms, so we didn’t have time to eat better.” Consistent answers from both boys. Other moms relate a similar experience.
It doesn’t seem to matter whether it is private or public school…generally speaking, kids are not given enough time to eat at school. North American society seems to be putting nourishment of our bodies on the back-burner.
There is a growing amount of research that points to the importance of eating slowly with conscious attention on each bite. Not only do you notice the taste more, but your perception of how much you eat grows considerably.
With that knowledge, and an inner-knowing, I decided I needed to counter this meal-time “rush” for the long-term health of my family.
Being a working mom, I tend to look for the most efficient options. Here are 5 steps to getting your children to eat better that have worked for me:
Step 1 – I have breakfast with my kids
My friend Cynthia gave me this idea. At first, I wondered, how could she pull that off with three kids? Isn’t she running the morning marathon to help her kids get to school? So, I had no excuse!… if Cynthia can make it a priority with three kids, I can give it a go with two. I have been doing this most mornings this year, and I have found that it seems to set our foundation for the day. It allows me to connect with my sons in a meaningful manner and it sets the tone for their day (and mine!).
Step 2 – I stopped asking my children to hurry up and eat…
…so that we can blah, blah or get to blah, blah, blah.
Step 3 – No more iPad, TV, etc during meal time
These distractions compromise our ability to be present during an important time… when we need to be able to notice the taste of each bite and perceive how much we are taking in, etc. And, most of all, it keeps us from communicating with and connecting with our fellow diners! And then we all eat better!
Step 4 – We replaced our microwave with a toaster oven
Is it worth it for us to take 3 minutes to heat up our food vs 30 seconds? We all answered YES, so we put our microwave away. Now our leftovers taste INCREDIBLE. I realize most people put away their microwave for health reasons, but we did it more from the standpoint of our self-worth. What’s worth more: a few minutes saved or how you nourish yourself?
This has made a HUGE impact on how we view meals and mealtime at our house.
Step 5 – Meal Planning
Sitting down to eat required that I find more time. Previously, I wasted time just trying to figure out what to make for each meal. Sometimes, after I finally decided, I found that I didn’t have all of the required ingredients! On top of that, I ended up each week with a great deal of food waste. To solve all of this, I started using a meal planning program. Here is a link to the program I use, Real Plans. No more, “Oh d@#n, what should I make for dinner?!” The membership was paid off in less than two weeks, as my grocery bill was smaller (no excess). My favourite feature is the shopping list. Items disappear off the list as I shop. Now, when I’m shopping, I don’t need to repeatedly scroll through my list, and best of all, I don’t need to generate a new list every time I go to the grocery store!
Nourishment plays a key factor in the development of self-image. Am I worth more than that yucky, but oh-so delicious Twinkie?
For many of us, things slow down just enough each summer to allow us the time to build new habits. On top of that, the longer, sunnier days make things seem more manageable. So why not give it a go? Slow down at mealtime. Try having breakfast with your kids.
Most of our habits take hold in childhood, so by changing your child’s outlook you will almost certainly impact their future health for the better. Like most parents, I would like my kids to have a healthier outlook than the one I grew up with. And, I hope they, in turn, guide their own kids to the next level of inner-health!
Take care of your body, and your body takes care of you! Now, who wants toast with their eggs?
Please let us know what has worked for you in the comments section below. Please share your images with us on instagram – tag us @freewithin #30daybreakaway
Photo credit: Donnie Ray Jones