I came across an article recently discussing the issue of when grandparents are caring for their grandchildren they may be negatively influencing the dietary intake and weight status of their grandchildren. Grandparents love to treat their grandkids. My daughters knew when they went to Great Aunty Joy’s home, they could always help themselves to the lolly jar, grab a biscuit and try on her glamorous shoes! That’s what you did and it was fun. But seriously with the childhood obesity epidemic knocking on our doors, we do need to look at doing things differently.
So here are 5 steps to start with and positively influence our grandchildren’s eating habits.
Step 1 – Grandparents make homemade treats using wholefood ingredients
I am all for ‘spoiling’ our grandies and being a foodie, what better way to say ‘I love you’ through food! Try swapping the sugar you put in your cakes or biscuits with raw honey and adding half the amount. Adding berries or bananas to the mix is also a great way to ‘sweeten’ up your creation. If your grandie doesn’t have a nut allergy, I also swap some of my flour for almond meal or milled rolled oats – a great way to add extra nutrients to their diet.
Step 2 – Grandparents love to treat their grandkids with fresh fruit when doing the grocery shopping
The supermarket is full of ‘goodies’! I love, how on entering the local supermarket, there is a designated basket full of fruit free to every child. I really appreciate this lovely gesture by the supermarkets. This is our first pit stop and I allow my grandie to choose a piece of fruit and eat it while we meander up and down the aisles. When my youngest daughter was the same age, she would always insist on grabbing some broccoli and munching on it as we did our shopping.
Step 3 – Grandparents involve their grandkids in the cooking process
Often we may think it’s easier to just do it ourselves and save the mess! What I love about involving my grandie in the cooking process is that she is not only learning about food, but she is also developing self help skills that will take her into her growing years and ultimately into a capable and resourceful adult. I also don’t worry about the mess created on my floor, on my benches or on my appliances. The learning experience continues into ‘let’s clean up together… really, it’s a win/win for everyone. But most importantly, we want our kiddies to grow up knowing how to take care of themselves, to be able to cook for themselves, clean up after themselves and so on.
Step 4 – Grandparents encourage rest time for their grandkids even if it’s just reading quietly on their bed
The need for rest for our body, soul and spirit is underestimated in our fast-paced society. I love how in Greece, my relatives still practice siesta. When I was growing up, I always remember coming home when we’ve been out and my mum putting us to bed for a rest in the afternoon. I did the same with my children and now I choose this important habit for my grandie. She doesn’t always want to go down for a rest, but when she wakes up, she’s ready for a fun afternoon of activities without grizzling because her body is tired. Have you ever noticed in yourself when you are tired you just grab easy food, often processed or packaged because you couldn’t be bothered cutting that salad? I have for myself and therefore I prioritise rest.
Step 5 – Grandparents just want to have fun with their grandkids
As a grandparent, I didn’t want to be the disciplinarian in my grandies life. I am all for discipline, but wanted to leave that to my daughter and son-in-law. What that says is, I have faith in their parenting, they are doing a great job parenting and all I need to do is build fun memories with my grandies. This is the legacy I want to leave with them. I’ve recently come across an article where they state spending time with your grandies extends your life. Whether that’s true or not, I sure feel that my life is richer and much more funnier with them in it and what a fabulously healthy habit for both of us! When our love tank is filled through healthy relationships, we are less likely to look to food to emotionally fill that void.