Parents who want to lose weight choose a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, they can be the drivers behind a healthier generation. Unfortunately, that is often not the case. By buying unhealthy products for their children, these parents are making their weightloss very hard. Furthermore, they are sending a confusing message to the kids. Instead of condemning them, we need to reinforce their confidence and raise their awareness in a positive way that they have the gold in hands to change themselves and also the next generation.
Parents who want to lose weight
In my practice I coach men and women who want to lose weight. They find themselves too fat or are referred to by their family doctor. Often their overweight is explainable. They eat and drink too much and are insufficiently able to resist temptation. ‘Unhealthy’ temptations, as they call it themselves. All the treats they buy for their kids. Candy, cake and soft drinks. Or fastfood or instant meals for when there is little time or no energy to cook. Unfortunately, these treats are often not exclusively reserved for the children’s mouths.
I have great admiration for these men and women. They are incredibly brave. They dare to be vulnerable and reach out for help to lose weight. They take matters into their own hands and consciously choose to start taking good care of themselves.
Most of them know that candy, cake, soft drinks and instant meals are not healthy. They know these products not only lead to extra pounds, but also may have a negative effect on the body in the longer term. Yet they keep buying these products though, for their children. And millions of people with them. There is special children’s marketing for a reason: treats for kids are big business!
Can’t we have anything anymore?
Of course we don’t need to eat ultra- healthy 365 days a year. It is important to have a healthy relationship with food, rather than an exaggerated fixation on what is or is not healthy.
A healthy relationship with food means that you are aware of what is healthy and unhealthy; that you have a well balance and a full-fledged eating pattern; that you can enjoy food and also have a snack now and then.
There is nothing wrong with occasionally taking the kids to McDonalds or have an ice cream. No one has ever got overweight or sick or died of an occasional burger, cookie or coke. But of course that is substantially different than putting unhealthy products regularly on the shopping list and in the kitchen cabinet.
Parents who want to lose weight but still buy unhealthy products for their children: ‘double trouble’.
On the one hand, they get themselves ‘in trouble’. Who is able to resist all the temptations? Food that is in the house, will be eaten. Whether it is on a difficult moment or because the children like to share their cookies with you.
On the other hand, the ‘trouble’ is in the confusing message that these parents unconsciously and unintentionally pass on to their children. With their choice to lose weight they make clear that it is important to take care of yourself. Healthy eating and a healthy weight are part of that.
At the same time, they’re sending the message that it is ok to buy unhealthy products on a regular basis. Products that can lead to being overweight. Products that these parents also prefer not to eat themselves and label as negative, but do give to their children. (“dad can’t or won’t eat that because that’s not good for him, you eat it”). This is a very confusing message for kids, which in the long term can contribute to a situation whereby those kids aren’t able to make healthy choices later in life.
Unhealthy became normal
In our daily lives, we are being overwhelmed by food temptations. You can buy food everywhere. The packaging of treats is often very attractive for children and for parents it can be very tiring to constantly have to say no. The Dutch Alliance Stop child marketing of doctors and health organizations fights against child heroes and cartoon characters on unhealthy products.
It became normal and acceptable to always have snacks available, also in our own home. While these products actually shouldn’t be a component of the daily routine in our kitchen. These products should be an exception.
However, we have a lot of everyday situations linked to unhealthy eating. Cake to celebrate something, a cookie to comfort, to reward, to keep them busy, or simply te stop the whining.
Especially parents who want to lose weight, can be the driving force behind a healthier generation
Parents who want to lose weight consciously choose a healthier lifestyle. And because of that consciousness they can be the driving force behind a healthier generation.
Parents often underestimate how much their child savours. What children do or eat outdoors or to what temptations food producers subject us, is ‘out of our hands’. But what happens at home and what temptations there are in our own kitchen, is something we determine ourselves.
Especially these parents who are so aware of a healthier lifestyle, can teach their children what is healthy and unhealthy eating, and what is a healthy relationship with food. That healthy eating is actually really normal and can be very tasty. That snacking is fine, but should be an exception.
By sending children the good message and setting a good example, these parents not only help their children but also theirselves. They can function as a role model. They can create a positive joint mission that connects the family; that functions as a big stick for their weightloss and that can prevent the kids from having negative associations with food and weight and a disturbed relationship with food in the long term, due to unsuccesful weightloss- attempts of parents.
Gold in hands
The brave decision of these parents to lose weight can have far reaching positive effects. If only they realize that themselves! That is why it is important not to condemn these parents for their overweight or the shopping they do for their children. We need to reinforce their confidence and raise their awareness in a positive way that they have gold in hands to make a difference for themselves and for the next generation.