Food has become the main source of stress when it comes to parenting. Mealtime is supposed to nourish and energize your kids, but it has become just the opposite. If you are born in Japan today, it is projected that you will have a long and healthy life. Eating patterns and lifestyle are the main aspects that account for this statistic. Japanese obesity levels are significantly lower than in other places in the world and have been on a steady decline. We just had to know their secrets! Join us as we share 7 practical steps to instill the lessons of Japanese health and wellness into your lifestyle.
Make Family Meals Satisfying
The way Japanese people eat is very efficient. It will fill you up while also giving your body all the nutrients it needs. By filling up on healthy food, you will have fewer cravings for junk food.
But don’t worry, you don’t have to have seaweed and tofu at every meal to maintain a healthy Japanese lifestyle. All you need to do is tweak your habits slightly in a more healthy direction. Incorporate more plant-based foods, fruits, vegetables and beans, and less processed foods. Avoid added sugars and salts. Eating this way will help fill you up because it is high in nutrients and low in calories. The foundation of pretty much every Japanese meal is rice. Rice is rich in water and lower in calories than bread but will still keep your belly feeling full.
Of course, your child can have occasional snacks and special treats, but the thing you have to watch out for is the amount and the frequency. In Japanese culture, treats are much less frequent than out west. Let your child relax and be comfortable while eating. Make sure that your child sees you enjoying eating and be sure that they know the food tastes delicious. It is also very important to eat together. Even if you are busy, make sure and have a set dinner time so you can all sit down together and eat as a family. Cook things that you love, and it will resonate with your children. They will feel joy. Try to eliminate the stress and pressure from eating and just enjoy each other’s company.
Encourage Exploration of New Foods
It is expected that children’s tastes will change as they get older and it is the parents’ job to steer them in the direction of healthy foods by letting them be exposed to a high variety of choices and by being a good example. The earlier the better when it comes to helping your child try healthy foods. Repetition and constant offering of new tastes will help them to be open to trying more. Infants may need only one try before they begin to like it, while older kids over 2 may need to be exposed to a new taste up to 20 times. Do not give up, keep trying to offer new foods to them without pressure.
Balance Your Plate With Japanese-style Portions
If you go out to restaurants often, you are aware that the average serving size there is out of control. This causes us to overeat. We have to normalize the portion size. Use smaller plates, typically 4 to 6 inches wide, and let your child dish up themselves!
Get Your Child Active
It can be really hard to get kids outside and active when they have such temptations at home, like video games and TV. Kids need to have at the very least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Try to make it fun by going to a playground, running outside or biking to school. Children love to play, and they will find ways to make anything fun, so encourage them to get outside! When they are active, they are happier, have more focus and do better in school.
Nurture a Family Lifestyle
Create an environment at home that supports these newfound healthy lifestyle choices. Eat your meals together as a family. Offer healthy and delicious food and be an example to your children. Involve your kids in the preparation of meals. These goals are something to strive towards, as the health benefits are so great.
Be the Boss
When it comes to the eating habits of children, some parents get anxious or uncomfortable when they have to exercise authority over their kids. It is important to set guidelines and rules that your children need to follow. Listen to them and their questions and be nurturing and strategic. The key is to be supportive, not punitive. It is our job as parents to build a home for our children that can inspire them to have a healthy lifestyle and make healthy eating habits so that they can live a long and healthy life.