If I had a dollar for every time people came to me asking for weight loss advice, but then told me “they couldn’t eat healthy because they have kids” … I’d be a zillionaire. They say that they “have” to keep junk for in the house for the kids. Well, who the heck thinks fried chips, sugary sodas and bags of cookies are good for children? Let me start this conversation off by firmly stating that keeping junk food in the house is not good for your children, you or anyone else for that matter. I wish my shocked feelings would just go away when I hear this, but I can’t get past the insistence of parents that their children deserve junk food because they’re “young and skinny”. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.
Don’t you wish you were taught healthier habits as a child, so you wouldn’t have ended up in the position you’re in now? Your parents gave you too much junk food, didn’t encourage a genuine passion and respect for exercise and now you need to lose some weight. Is that what you’d like to do to your little ones? The habits you teach them today will take them through puberty, college and adulthood. Since I’m sure you would prefer both they and you share a long, happy and healthy life together, it’s time to make positive changes for your entire family. By removing high-sugar and high-fat nonsense from your kitchen, you’ll do everyone some good. You’ll be more likely to lose the weight you’re hoping to and your kids will be less likely to experience the atrocious side-effects of unhealthy eating habits.
Start by filling your kitchen with highly nutritious foods which rot quickly. Doritos and crackers do not rot quickly. Produce, lean meats, lean dairy products and fresh legumes do. Simply ask yourself while shopping, “is this legitimately healthy?” If the answer is no, put it back on the shelf. Tricky labels can be confusing. Some say “healthy”, but are definitely not. Avoid ingredients like sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, sucralose, oil and lard. The more water you drink, the better. And once your home looks good, change the way you eat out. Fried food is not OK, because you have kids. Fried food is not OK for anybody. It’s easier than ever to find healthy choices on the go with the expansion of fresh and fast restaurants like Moe’s, Baja Fresh, Subway and others. Grabbing a grilled chicken salad at McDonald’s is a fine choice too, as long as you don’t give in and grab some fries while you’re there.
Speaking of fries. I’m not asking you become the Food Nazi. You just have to provide and choose healthy options about 80-90% of the time. Once your world is consumed with great choices, the little infractions won’t hurt so much. I like to make things even easier by creating healthy alternatives to the junky stuff we already love and this is where the French fries come in. A handful of French fries cooked in oil will cost you about 230 calories – half of which come from fat. Instead, throw some frozen fries in the oven with salt but no oil, you’ll only consume 100 calories in which 34 come from fat. Not bad, eh? Oven roasted French fries are the perfect crispy and salty snack – why not just go that route instead of getting the full-blown greasy kind at your favorite sports bar? My best choice is a generic bag of crinkle cut fries at my grocery store in the frozen food section. We also sneak air-popped popcorn in to movie theaters, because we completely reject the grease-fest which is movie popcorn. Go ahead and judge me. But I recommend you do the same.
If you’re concerned with your child’s reaction to a more healthy household, this is what I recommend. Come clean! Simply tell your children that “Daddy and Mommy have not been providing you with the healthiest food on the planet. We recently learned how and why we should make changes, and we’re going to be moving towards a healthier lifestyle. I’m sorry if you’ll miss certain items, but since we’re your parents and we love you – once we know better, we must do better. We love you too much to continue to move in the direction we were. We’ll make this fun and find alternatives to the less-than-healthy dishes and snacks you really enjoy together. You’ll still have some sinful items here and there, but they won’t be the norm like they are now”.
The moral of the story is: if you have high standards for your family, you’ll also be expected to have high standards for yourself. Become an ideal role model! Make wise eating choices, manage your calories wisely and exercise frequently. Hopefully, knowing that your entire family is watching, will motivate you to make great choices and achieve your own goals too.