By Janet Helm, MS, RD
Marshall Reid wanted to make some changes. He couldn’t run and keep up with the other kids at recess. He didn’t feel good. When he was ten, he made up his mind to be healthier and he wanted his family to do the same. He’s chronicled his family’s month-long journey to healthier living in the new book “Portion Size Me: A Kid-Driven Plan to a Healthier Family.”
I love the idea that kids are part of the solution. At the age of ten, Marshall was the reason his family started to cook more at home and to think more about what they put in their mouths. He was the one that helped create new habits in his house and inspired new foods on the table. We need more kids to be the catalyst for change if we’re going to avoid the grim future that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently predicted, which is an obesity rate of 42 percent by the year 2030. That’s about 32 million more Americans who will become obese.
Obesity does tend to run in families. Yet, it’s not all about genetics. An even more powerful factor may be the behaviors that kids learn from their parents. How you eat as a parent is how your children will learn to eat. Kids mirror their parents’ eating habits as well as their attitudes about food. So, one of the best ways to get your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, and to eat healthier overall, is for you to do the same.
Yet, some of the changes can be initiated by kids themselves, as Marshall Reid illustrates in this easy-to-read book that he wrote with his mother, Alexandra Reid. What I really liked about the book is that it doesn’t demonize food. In fact, it celebrates food – viewing it as “beautiful, nutrient-rich fuel to energize one’s body and soul.” It’s a cookbook, full of easy and affordable family meals, along with a step-by-step action plan to help families create a healthier lifestyle, and a journal to track your journey. It’s not about putting kids on a “diet” or telling families to follow a strict regimen. Instead, the book takes you by the hand and provides specific advice to help you “return to the kitchen and create real, delicious, and nourishing meals.”
The book outlines six major goals, which are important reminders for all families:
- Eat as many real foods as possible.
- Read ingredients.
- Pause before you eat.
- Get moving.
- Help out in the kitchen.
- Watch portion sizes.
At the core of the book is getting your kids in the kitchen, and I think that’s so important for many reasons. For starters, if kids see how a healthy meal got to their plate, they’ll be less likely to reject it and beg for take-out. If kids had a hand at making something, they’ll be more apt to try it. And once they get older, you may find that they’ll teach you a thing or two in the kitchen. Are you cooking with your kids?