So it is THAT time of year again! The time many of us feel obliged to commit to a year of losing weight. Weight loss regimes generally involve denying ourselves something that we like, or restricting how or what we eat, meaning these plans are often not sustainable past January. In fact did you know that the most likely long term outcome of following a weight loss diet is actually weight gain? The more you try to lose weight the more you will gain long term. So diets generally don’t work but we still kid ourselves that this year will be different, this year it will work…… And this is the reason that popular weight loss groups are bombarded with repeat customers every year. Not a bad business model I guess!
Even if we ignore the fact that diets generally don’t work long term, it is also worth considering the message you are sending your children by going on a diet. Before you start any eating programme it is important to ask yourself if you would be happy for your child to follow the same regime, and whether you are being a good health role-model. A few years ago the 5:2 diet was particularly popular – would you be happy for your teenage daughter to virtually starve for 2 days a week in pursuit of weight loss? With the prevalence of eating disorders increasing all the time, this is worth considering.
So maybe a weight loss diet is not the answer, but you want to be healthier and eat differently in 2016. I believe that, rather than following any specific diet or eating plan, it is worth looking at the WAY we eat more than WHAT we eat.
Think about how we eat these days compared to when you were a child. Times have changed, availability of food and our lifestyles have changed, and this has resulted in us giving less time and importance to food and mealtimes. We rush around shops drinking a coffee we have bought, rarely take lunch breaks in our busy jobs and it is not uncommon for children to eat on the run, and all at different times between their after school activities. Why not try slowing down and eating together, even once a week? Giving a little more importance to mealtimes has the effect of making our hunger more psychologically satisfied. We are less likely to grab unhealthy snacks and more likely to think about what we plan to eat. We will be more likely to eat as a family, which in term can encourage a picky eater to try new foods.
So why not pick one of these small changes towards ‘Happy Eating’ to make this week?
- Eat together at least once as a family. No screens, chat and enjoy your meal, even if it is a takeaway or a ready meal.
- Ask your children to help plan, prepare and cook a meal
- Plan your meals. This does not need to be for the whole week. Even planning what you are all going to eat at the beginning of the day will help you save money, and encourage everyone to eat the same meals.
- Be a good role model. So make sure you eat your veg and have balanced healthy meals. You never know, your ‘fussy eater’ may follow suit!
So this year, forget the resolutions for weight loss diets, ‘clean eating’ or other gimmicky food fads. This year why not try something different: a resolution based on small positive changes towards ‘Happy Eating’ for your whole family. There will be no negative messages and the results may last a lifetime.
Let me know how you get on. …and if you would like to chat about any aspect of family nutrition please do get in touch,
Happy Eating and Happy New Year!