Every single person I talked to was relieved to just chat about ideas and solutions, rather than having me lecture them about strict "right" and "wrongs." I began many sentences with "I'm a parent, I know how hard it can be...." or "My youngest is the pickiest, but here is what worked for us..." Happily other parents also joined in the discussion, sharing tricks and tips, including some ideas that were new to me.
Understanding the real challenges of parents and meeting them where they cannot be underrated. If we are going to engage parents to improve their children's eating habits, it boils down to this:
What parents need to be empowered:
- Validation of their efforts.
- Support, not guilt (Believe me, moms have enough guilt already!)
- Positive activities, like family dinner, to encourage healthy eating with their kids
- Good, unbiased information on health choices
- New ideas for snacks and family-friendly dinner recipes
One of the messages of this blog is that parents are powerful. True, parents are harried, busy and sometimes confused over the various health choices they face for their kids. Nonetheless, parents have more influence than they think in setting good examples and making the right choices for their kids. Let's work with parents as allies, giving them what they need to make the best choices for their kids. That's one way to make in-roads in the huge problem of childhood obesity and poor nutrition among kids.
Resources and Handouts:
In addition to promoting the benefits of family dinner, I talked about healthy snacks for kids and healthy portion sizes. Here are links to some of the material I used.
25 Healthy Snacks for Kids From eatright.org, American Dietetic Association
Help Your Child Stay at a Healthy Weight From healthfinder.gov
Family Friendly Blogs with Recipes From eatdinner.org
Rainbow Stew from Aviva Goldfarb, PBS Kitchen Explorers
Today I Ate a Rainbow Kit (15% off with discount code: eatdinner until April 15, 2011)
Fruits and Veggies More Matters website
12 Smart Ways to Right-Size Your Portions From EatSmartMoveMoreNC.org, found on www.wellnessproposals.com