Staying fit as a family in Chicago is easier than you thinkWednesday, April 20, 2011
Do our kids make us fat? That's what a recent study suggests.
Over 4000 people were surveyed and findings showed that parents ate more sugary and fatty foods than their non-parent counterparts. Parents admitted that they don't always make time to prepare healthy foods or exercise.
But what troubled me about this study is that many said this didn't bother them. If parents are regularly making unhealthy food choices, they are most likely making these same food choices for their children.
Poor eating habits established in childhood usually continue on into adulthood. If we serve healthy, tasty meals, and our kids are hungry, they will eat it. Of course, my son would love it if I only served chicken nuggets and fries, but he also loves salmon and couscous, asks for carrots and tomatoes in his lunch box, and knows that, while I'll never buy fruit snacks, he can eat as much real fruit for a snack as he wants. He knows how to read food labels and knows we don't buy things with high fructose corn syrup or trans fat. He is 6 years old, and he gets it. When parents see the value of making their own health a priority, it trickles down to their offspring.
We also need to be role models for fitness. A mother who tells me she gets enough exercise chasing around her toddler is sadly mistaken. We not only need to exercise on most days of the week (and let our children know about it), we need to have them exercising, too.
Of course, this is where I'll fit in my shameless plug for One Fit Mama, where moms and moms-to-be can exercise with their children from before they are born through elementary school.
But Chicago is full of so many easy, low-cost ways for families to exercise together. This past weekend, for example, Dan and I each took Caleb to the park separately (with a trip to the frozen yogurt store mixed in), and then we all rode bikes for nearly two hours, stopping at two parks along the way to play. It needs to be mentioned, though, that the emphasis on creating a healthy family should be on fun, creativity, nutrition, strength, and self-esteem, NEVER on mirrors and scales.
It's time to stop making excuses about our own health and begin making positive changes for the whole family's sake, and there are plenty of fun ways to do it right in your own backyard.