By Michael A. Ciampi, M.D.
It is amazing to me as a physician, parent, and person who has struggled with my weight my entire life when I hear some of the rationale for people not living a healthier lifestyle.
I often tell my patients that one good way to make it easier to eat better is to not keep unhealthy foods readily available in the home. If they don’t have cookies, cakes, candy, and ice cream, etc. in the cabinets or the freezer, it is less likely they will seek them out. Cravings for such things, while very intense, usually last only about 5-10 minutes. If they are not there, a person is much less likely to slip. In my own case, I call it, “using my own laziness to my advantage.” If I am craving chocolate and there is none in the house, I am not likely to get in my car to pick some up at the store right at that moment. The craving passes, and I move on.
Sometimes the response I get from people is incredible when you stop to think about it. They say, “That sounds good. I want to eat healthier, but I will keep that stuff around because ‘I don’t want to deprive my children'”
Think about that statement for a minute. “I don’t want to deprive my children.” Of what? We call it junk food for a reason. It is unhealthy and more than infrequent use raises the risk of so many things, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc. You don’t want to deprive them of all those crippling medical conditions and early death?!
As a parent, I get it. We want our kids to be happy. We also want them to not nag us about what they want to eat. We have to remember that in other areas, a good parent doesn’t just give in and give a child everything he or she wants. It is up to the parent to look out for their well being and establish healthy habits for the rest of their lives. What could be more important than teaching and modeling for them habits of living a nutritious lifestyle?
I am not suggesting that we never eat sweets or other unhealthy foods. I am suggesting that we don’t do it often. Save having a high calorie dessert for a special occasion, or do it once a week or less. It will become an event, not the norm. Have the kids look forward to going out for an ice cream on Sunday afternoon. It becomes a bonding experience for all of you. If you do it, your kids are more likely to follow your example.
If you are not used to eating sweets all the time, you will be amazed at how little it will take when you do have them to satisfy you.
It is a triple bonus. Look better. Feel better. Set a great example.
So what were you depriving them of again….?