I was inspired by the Pastor’s sermon today. She related a story about running relay races when she was younger. The imagery she used on how the runner trains and the trust that the group in a relay race have in each other struck a chord in me. I felt like it was totally applicable to what I am trying to share with my family of followers.
As parents, we are the lead runners in the race. We start off the block and set the pace for the family. Children learn so much by the example of their parents and place their trust in them. As the lead runners, we have to be looking forward, just as the runner does to keep on track. We must look towards the future – ours and our children – in order to finish the race without dropping the baton. Sometimes we pass along things to our children which could be thought of as “boggling” the baton. But then we get back on track and head in the right direction. Or it could be that your child tries to reach for the baton you are handing off to them and it’s just out of their reach. It’s our job as parents to span that gap and reach back a little more to bring them within reach of the goal.
What does this have to do with nutrition? We need to set the example of how, where, what and with whom we eat. If we want to pass along the baton of healthy eating to our children they must experience it. Food is such an integral part of our lives that we cannot just relegate it to an afterthought. Children should be involved from the earliest stages of life, as applicable for their age, in the planning and making of meals. Food has become a pastime or recreation for many of us. Although it is great to enjoy the food and the company at meals, it is not meant to be entertainment. Food nourishes us. We should be taking the time to enjoy it as a blessing before the race of life.
If the runner doesn’t eat the right foods or be adequately hydrated, the likelihood of a good outcome of the race is greatly reduced. If we as parent don’t encourage our children to eat foods that are going to help their brains grow and maintain the best quality of health then we are dropping the baton. Children will always push the limits and test us to see how much control they can master over their parents. When it comes to their health, we must be strong and secure in the knowledge that we know what’s best. When it comes to mealtime, children need to be encouraged to try new foods – even if they rebel. That doesn’t mean forcing them, it means encouraging. And each time try to encourage a bit more.
A child who is a picky eater may grow up to be an unhealthy adult because they have not developed the right eating habits. Before they get to that point, pick up the baton and try to reset the pace. The idea is to get the child to the finish line – to be a happy, healthy, independent adult who can then pass the baton along to the next generation.
Many of us who have had eating problems in the past (I’m one of them) know how difficult it is to make the changes as an adult when our habits are well-formed. If only I was taught as a child just how important it would to eat correctly, I may have made it through my midlife without so many health disasters. It is my desire to have the next generation not to repeat the mistakes that I went through but to learn how easy it is to stay healthy and enjoy more out of life without having to battle one disease or another because they are not providing themselves the right nourishment.
This has to start at the grassroots level and a #RealFoodRevolution has to take place. We need to demand our grocery stores provide clean, organic food (free of hormones, pesticides and added chemical substances) and we need to make the demand so great that it is in their best interest to provide it as a reasonable cost. The more the demand, the greater they will supply.
Pick up the baton and be the lead runner in your family. Keep focused on the future of a happy healthy family and start by planing, preparing and enjoying meals together. When you pass along the baton, hopefully your adult children will invite you over to their house and show you just how much they have learned by your example. What a wonderful gift that will be.