Before the last few months, and excluding while I was pregnant, I felt like I had a good sense of portions. At the same time, however, I could eat a whole 10″ pizza like it was nothing. So that is why I am so excited about Fresh Baby’s campaign with the USDA .
Fresh Baby supports parents with simple and natural solutions to reducing a child’s risk of obesity by promoting the development of healthy eating habits from the first bite of solid foods. The recipes included in the books, newsletter and online were developed to be convenient for anyone, no matter their income or location. With research concluding that children’s eating preferences are established by age 3, it is clear that parents play a crucial role in getting their children off to the right start. Fresh Baby was founded, and continues to operate, on the belief that all parents want to raise healthy children, but when it comes to healthy eating habits, they often lack the tools, skills, and knowledge needed to be effective.
The interesting thing that I have found is that my children are very good at managing their portions if we allow them to do so. Although there may be a yummy, sugary treat in front of them, they will only eat a small portion of it because they know their limits. We try hard to make sure that they have eaten enough healthy food before the yummy, sugary treat so that they feel satisfied before they eat their treat and also try never to make them eat more than they want. I remember as a young kid feeling full but I had to eat my broccoli or whatever vegetable that was there that I didn’t want. To make sure that doesn’t happen with our kids, we try to give them more fruits and vegetables and smaller portions of the main meal, without denying them the good nutrients of it, until they have eaten their fruits and vegetables.
I have two children and from the beginning, the way I handled feeding them solid foods was very different. With my three-year old girl, I tended to feed her more grains and cheese because at that time of my life, I wasn’t eating as many fruits and vegetables as I should have been eating. And whether it is because of her or because of how I fed her from the beginning, it is still evident that she enjoys her grains and dairy products more than her vegetables. Sometimes she really likes fruits but it just varies on the day. So making sure she gets the good food that she needs each day is a struggle.
With my one-year old son, by the time I had him, my diet was completely different and fresh fruits and vegetables became essential to our eating habits and to our refrigerator. Again, I don’t know if it’s just his taste buds or if it’s because of how I fed him from the beginning, but he loves fresh fruits and vegetables. He will often eat those over anything else on his plate.
Although my two children enjoy different foods, one thing has remained constant: we allow them to choose when they have had enough food. With our daughter, some nights she has three carrots and claims she’s done with dinner. Although we try to encourage her to eat more, we also may recognize that she had a large breakfast and lunch with a couple of snacks during the day so she may not be hungry for dinner. Or she may be feeling sick and doesn’t feel like eating. Or perhaps she really just does not feel too hungry and might eat more the following day. I mean, we’ve all been in those situations, right? And for us, it is important to not override her internal instincts and change her ability to distinguish when she feels satiated.
My son, on the other hand, rarely has a meal where he hardly touches his food. Although he’s young, I can already see our future food budget for each month draining because of the quantity of food he can consume. In fact, he often will eat more than our three-year old. However the case, we make sure that he allows us to tell us when he is done and he is so good at it. I have been impressed with his ability to monitor how much sugar he consumes. With the way he eats, I always expect him to down slices of cake at a time, however, he is perfectly fine with a few bites of a sugary treat before he says he’s all done.
I feel like as a grown adult, I could learn quite a few lessons from my children on finding correct portions and listening to my body. We received sectioned plates from Fresh Baby and I have been using the adult sectioned plate for some of my meals and have been somewhat shocked to see how bad I am at determining portions and making sure I eat enough food from the four food groups that are on the plate. My kids love their sectioned plates and have learned a lot about food and the food groups from using them. It worries them when the “meat and beans” section is not filled or when they feel like I haven’t put enough food in a section to complete the portion.
Drinking enough water is a major concern for my family. As with most little kids, my children love their milk. Every morning and afternoon, you can find them on our kitchen floor, sitting down with their blanket and milk cup, just sucking down the milk. I take water bottles with us almost every where we go, even if it’s just to a friend’s house down the street, but milk is usually what is asked for every time. My son is better at drinking water than my daughter, as she is willing to sacrifice her hydration and wait for milk. Although when it’s hot outside and she’s looking flushed, we do basically force her to drink at least a little bit of water, whether she thinks she needs to or not. Because water is very important for the body and is, after all, what most of our body is comprised of. As for my husband and I, well, our days get busy and our minds are elsewhere, and water is not something we drink all of the time. My goal is to encourage the whole family to drink more water. Not only does our body need it, but it helps our bodies be more healthy, and that’s important.
Our family rarely drinks sugary drinks. Our kids hardly ever drink a sugary drink (it’s considered a treat if they do) and my husband and I rarely ever taste a sugary drink. I used to love Mt. Dew and drank it regularly with friends. However, that soon came to an end and even if I’m offered a free sugary drink, I usually pass. In fact, I have a Mt. Dew from an event I went to a few nights ago and it is still unopened, sitting in my refrigerator. They’re not good for the body or the teeth and so our family chooses to stay away from them.
I love being outside in good weather and it is a great place for children. Being outside keeps our entire family active and gives the children a place to explore (which is so much better than exploring our kitchen cabinets for the tenth time in one day). We love going on walks, on bike rides, especially up the nearby canyon, playing tennis, playing on playgrounds, and just being outside in general. During the cold winter months, you can often find us running circles around the house and having races back and forth in our living room. We play tag and hide and go seek. Although I was very active before children, now having young kids has shown me how to have a lot more fun while “getting my energy out.”
So what can you do and get to help your family with understanding portion sizes better? First of all, Fresh Baby has some great products.
Also, sit down and talk with your family about what you all can do to help improve your eating habits and exercise habits. It is important to have a plan and to work together. I know without my family’s support, I could have never made the changes in our eating habits.