As a kid, I can not remember learning about what to eat. What was good for me and what was unhealthy. The old school healthy food pyramid was floating around out there and I am sure is something that we have all heard about. Since it’s release in Australia in the 1980’s, the healthy food pyramid has had many changes which have coincided with our increased knowledge of healthy nutrition.
Nutrition Australia has a great breakdown of not just the most recent healthy food pyramid released in 2015 but also, all the healthy food pyramids since their initial release in Australia.
You would think that with this information out there, we would all be able to make informed decisions about what we are eating. It is broken down and spelled out for us, right? So why is obesity fast becoming the number 1 cause of disease in Australia? We are in an obesity epidemic! It just doesn’t make sense. We should be more aware, more informed and better able to make the right decisions when it comes to what we should and shouldn’t eat. Sadly, this just isn’t the case.
So much of this growing problem has to do with education and it needs to start early. Kids are so susceptible to the influence of what they see in the world around them. There is a bombardment of ads on TV glorifying fast foods. Grocery stores that contain aisles and aisles of brightly packaged products made from nothing but sugars and fillers, all aimed at grabbing the attention of your kids.
The drama that may ensue when your child feels that they need these products because TV says they should, their friends have them or without them they won’t fit in with everyone else. This can become a daily challenge that, coupled with the busy lifestyles most adults live, make it easier to simply give in then fight this constant battle. Worse still, if the parents themselves rely on these foods simply because they have never had the opportunity to learn that there is another way.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2 in 3 adults and 1 in 4 Children are overweight in Australia. That is 63% of the adult population and 25% of our kids in the country. I am going to say that again,
63% that is over HALF of our adult population and 25% A QUARTER of all of our children are overweight or obese…..
If this information does not scare you then you are risking your future by becoming susceptible to obesity and all of the flow on affects from it.
I have spoken with many people who say they don’t care how they live, they just want to have a good time. I can appreciate that, it is not my place to make any person choose to do something that is not valuable to them.
These kinds of statements are easy to say when you are in good health. The side effects of an unhealthy lifestyle may be years down the track, they are for future you to worry about. While this may be true, when these health issues arise, and they will, you may be singing a different tune. Cardiovascular (heart) disease is one of the leading causes of death in Australia. If you are aged over 45, the risk increases even further. Think you might want to be around to see your kids grow up? Your lifestyle choices are going to be the biggest factor involved in that choice, and it is a choice.
It may seem hard to change old eating habits. People can have a very emotional connection to their food. It brings comfort and familiarity, memories of good childhood experiences and loved ones. It can also be a persons biggest tormentor. The cause of eating disorders, anorexia, bulimia or binge eating. Our self image, how we look and think of ourselves is connected to how we eat.
Many people spend their lives struggling with weight. Mainstream society tells us to look a certain way to be attractive, gain acceptance from our peers and have the lives we want. This is so disruptive to our health and the health of our families.
There is however a way to start making healthy food choices. These changes do not need to be drastic. You don’t need to stop eating the things you enjoy. Instead, it is about adding healthier choices to what you already eat. Learning a little more about hunger cues, that is when you actually feel hungry vs when you might just be bored, thirsty or simply eating out of habit. Working on portion control, which is the size of your meals and learning to eat slowly and mindfully so that you feel full quicker and therefore eat less.
You don’t need to jump on the diet bandwagon. Those things are definitely not sustainable long term, which is exactly what your nutrition choices are. They are decisions that will have an impact on your whole life as well as the lives of your kids and how they can be healthy for the rest of their lives. That is a big responsibility. It makes sense then, to eat in a way that you and your family will enjoy.
It is not all doom and gloom. Yes, these are some heavy facts. The great thing is, you have a choice. You don’t have to be a statistic. You can start to read about ways to change your eating habits and the eating habits of your kids. In the world of false information, it is hard to know what is fact and what is made up to suck you in to some wacky fitness trend. You are probably not going to find this information in an opinion piece you scroll by on Facebook. The information you want will be written by practicing nutritionists. If you are unsure, Precision Nutrition is a great place to start. They offer an abundance of information, infographics and videos that are easy to understand. Don’t limit yourself to just one source though. If you are someone who just wants to find healthier options without reading into it, you can find thousands upon thousands of clean eating recipes online.
Don’t be afraid to try new things.
What you and your family eat can be turned in to a fun experience. That may be easier said then done with fussy kids, but repetition and leading by example are all helpful in teaching your kids what is good for them and what is going to keep them healthy and strong compared to what is going to lead to obesity, poor health and illness as they get older.
Make cooking new meals a family affair. You have a great chance to really get your kids involved with the whole cooking process. If cooking healthy food becomes a fun experience that they are going always connect to good times, they are more likely to keep these amazing habits they learn from you as they grow up, leading them to have long healthy lives.
So, how are you supposed to do all of this? It comes down to adding minimally processed whole foods to your meals. These are fresh vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts and meats. You will find the freshest produce at farmers markets (you will also be supporting local Australian growers, go you). If you are not an early riser or can’t manage the time to get to your local farmers market, head to your local grocery store and stick to the outside edge, avoid the aisles as much as possible, this is where all of the highly processed foods are kept.
At the end of the day, it is best to start with small steps. Try one meal a week that is different from what you would usually eat. Have a roast potato instead of chips. Grill your fish instead of frying it. Once you feel confident with this add a second change. Even one little step may seem like a huge leap. Where do you start? What can you change? If you are asking these questions, Lizzay and I are here to help answer any questions you have. You can contact us at our Website or Facebook.