For the most part, it is likely that children already facing an obesity problem are, or have been, growing up in a family which inclines toward making unhealthy dietary choices a significant portion of the time: barring instances of a chemical imbalance situation contributing to an individual child’s obesity circumstances. The dash diet provides an excellent guideline for healthy choices that incorporates latitude for considerable versatility in the family’s eating choices. However, parents have a higher probability of success in their efforts to inhibit obesity problems in children using dash diet techniques when they use the dash diet as a framework and incorporate other healthy meal time practices into their overall family routine as well. For example, studies founded in a variety of disciplines and underpinned by a variety of concerns have found that the “family meal” has a diverse range of beneficial impacts on children. Structured within the DASH diet, the family meal practice is an excellent place to start.
Some general child-rearing mealtime practices or habits expert observors recommend include:
Routine. Routine gives children a sense of security, so consider delegating particular days of the week for specific supper entrees. There is a reason for the old ” spaghetti days,” Friday fish suppers, and Saturday frankfurters and beans. You may need to adjust some with a dash diet plan for some choices [such as frankfurters] for high sodium content or other nutrient content, but in general, if this works for your family for simplicity of choices it also likely will work well for other beneficial outcomes of a dietary routine.
Communication. Studies have demonstrated that this element of a family mealtime habit — without the television broadcast accompanying the mealtime — has a startling range of beneficial results from health benefits to academic excellence to improved social skills. Use a family mealtime routine, and the dash diet plan as the framework for meal planning for that family mealtime, to provide opportunities for all family members to communicate on their daily lives and issues of concern for any individual members.
Education. This involves both “show” and “tell”. Use the dash diet plan, for example, to emphasize healthy choices that children tend to enjoy — such as fruit-based desserts using strawberries or blueberries rather than cake or pie for at least certain of the family meals.
Involvement. Verbal communication of the “how” and “why” of the family meal time structure should lead to practical opportunities to involve the children in the selection and preparation of food as early in life as possible. This also promotes, in children, the senses of family identity and empowerment that have demonstrated beneficial results in many areas of child rearing outcomes. This gives children a sense of family belonging and also a sense of empowerment in the ability to make their own good choices when outside the family unit.
The dash diet plan can contribute to the resolution of the parenting problem of how to deal with obese children, but it is unlikely to provide success in such an endeavor unless the family first adjusts its perspective on the importance, and the whys of that significance, of the family meal time routine in and of itself. The good news is the dash diet plan incorporates enough potential versatility within its recommendations to make this more than feasible in combatting childhood obesity through the cultivation of healthy meal choices in children.