Where we started...
Harrison ate what we thought was a pretty healthy diet. Lots of vegetables fish, pasta, fruit and occasional treats. It wasn't until he started to keep a food diary of what he actually ate, that we saw where things were going wrong.
It became clear, it wasn't so much what Harrison was eating, it was more the quantity of what he was eating and when he was eating it.
Taking a look at the NHS guide lines and looking at the Change for Life website, all the things they recommended, such as changing sugar drinks for water, dilute juices, low fat milk and diet drinks, we were already doing. But there was seemingly still no change in Harrison's weight. As a parent it felt like there were no other alternatives until we started searching for inspiration online.
What I started to learn
Some days, without realising it, Harrison was eating high carbohydrate meals, with a few treats here and there. Only by recording an honest food diary did we notice this.
Try it, it's a real eye opener!
We decided we needed some help. We sat down for a first meeting with Chris from Evo Fit - who's now a Harrison's Hero - and looked at this on a weekly basis. Rewards in the form of a simple tick were given for good meal choices and crosses for not so good choices. The aim of the game was to each week reduce the number of crosses and increase the number of ticks. Harrison decided he wanted to be able to have up to 5 crosses a week, and we introduced 'pass' days, meaning we could still have occasions with now restrictions. We tried to stop using the word 'treat' in relation to food, as this teaches our kids that food is a treat!
Social Media started to play a big part in our research and was a particularly rich source of inspiration. We started to connect with people like Joe Wikes (aka The Body Coach) and The Food Grinder on instagram. These guys really helped us change some of our attitudes to food. They helped us with ideas to to make 'bland' food into tasty meals and ideas for some great sweet alternatives, such as sweet potato brownies and avocado and chocolate cookies. They sound awful I know, but trust us, they taste amazing....
Still, the one area where we really did struggle, was that there was nothing out there to tell us what a child like Harrison should be eating and how much.
What I know now
It takes time and patience - each child is different and it's a case of trial and error to get the right balance for your child.
The Body Coach kindly wrote us a health and fitness plan, which worked - up to a point. However it wasn't really that kid friendly, especially for school packed lunches. I have now discovered food flasks, which are amazing. Harrison now takes hot food for lunch on a daily basis, ranging from curries, casseroles and stir-fry's. He does get comments from kids at school as it's different to what the other kids are eating - typical sandwich, crisps and chocolate affairs. Shouldn't schools be helping with this?
There is so much information out there for adult healthy eating, but not a lot for children. With obesity levels on the increase, we began to get more and more passionate baout the subject. We started to think about what we could do and how we could help.
I got really interested in nutrition and started to read widely on the subject, taking in as much information and research as I could. It became clear that it's all about going back to basics and taking time to prepare and cook healthy meals, as part of a healthy lifestyle.
I recently got asked "do I think parents are to blame for childhood obesity?" As parents we should be in control over what we put into our child's bodies - to a degree. But in reality, as life has become increasingly busy, it's more difficult for us to step back and look at what we are doing. It's so easy to put a pizza in the oven with some chips or grab a take away on the way home from work, but going back to basics and cooking from scratch is not as hard as it seems, it only takes 20 minutes to pull together a stir-fry with some baked salmon. Planning and preparation are the key here. Planning meals for the week, make it much easier, cheaper and reduce food waste too.