People ask me all the time, how I live the Summit way with “so many kids”. The simple answer is that I integrate all the Summit principles (not rules) into my kids’ lives. Sometimes they resist and sometimes they don't. Kids are notorious for resisting, so it may as well be for their own wellbeing and mine.
I’ll be honest, one thing that really gets me fired up is when I hear people cooking separate meals for themselves than they do for their kids. Think about it, I'll have this roast and cauliflower rice and Little Joey will have a peanut butter sandwich and goldfish because “he doesn't like vegetables”. Look, I don’t always love dinner time at my house, either. Those little boogers can be pretty exhausting when they won’t eat what's on their plate. However, I love them too much to not teach them what has taken me decades to learn.
So, here you go. If you want to take your family (and your program) to the next level, follow these suggestions below. They may take intention, at first, but eventually, it'll be second nature for both you and your family.
- Teach them what you’re learning. Practice teaching yourself how to meal prep, how to make more loving food choices, and how to love your body and speak lovingly to yourself by teaching it to your kids. After all, they need teaching, as we both know, we weren't born with this knowledge, and they aren’t either. If they don't learn it now, they may find themselves working their own program in the future.
- Include them in the decision making. Ask them “what's for dinner this week? What are some healthy snack ideas?” Encourage them to choose a protein, a vegetable, and a carb for meals. Teach them what those words mean… when they ask what a cheese stick is, teach them it is both a dairy and a protein. No judgment - just open conversations. Most of the time they will choose the macaroni (starchy carb), say “oh, that's a starchy carb. What would be a yummy protein and veggie to go with it?” And no matter what, serve a little of everything on their plate every single time.
Tip! When they say, “I don't like green beans,” respond with, “Oh? You ate seconds last week!” A little fib here will pay off in the long run because they will only remember you saying time and time again that they liked it before. This is more productive than reminding them that they never eat vegetables. Your voice becomes their voice.
- Let them participate in the prep. Younger kids love to help and as they get older, not always. So, no matter how old they are, invite them to help. Create space for your kids to make a positive memory in the kitchen with you.
- Make it exciting! Notice your language. Notice your energy. If you feel like you’re on a diet, then your kids will too. No fun! I don't care who you are, no one likes being on a diet. Be mindful and intentional with your body language, your verbal dialogue with yourself and them about food, losing weight, and working towards a healthier lifestyle. As a family, we are in this for the journey. We are seeking progress, not perfection. Always remember that.
- Release the outcome. Make it an offering, not a requirement. At the end of the day, we all need to be capable of being our own boss. How many times have we struggled to make a decision? Teach your kids how to make a decision, then teach them how to face the outcome, without judgment. The way to do this is to set them up for success with open-ended questions to get them thinking and then refrain from correcting them. Allow them to choose the unhealthy choice and then ask them more clarifying, non-judgemental questions to raise awareness and help prepare them to make a different decision next time. Example- they choose Cheetos over an apple, you say “oh how does your tummy feel after you ate those Cheetos?” And then refrain from making any comments about their response. The goal is to help them notice how food feels in their body. Just asking them the question can accomplish this task.
6. Bonus Tip! Refrain from the following:
- Bribing and rewarding your kids (and yourself) with food. Instead do so, with experiences or choice.
- Forcing a clean “happy” plate and begin encouraging a “happy” tummy.
- Fixing seconds (or allowing dessert) immediately. Teach the 20-minute principle- wait 20 minutes after you finish supper before eating again. Set an alarm, if needed.
Just like everything worthy of your attention, this will take time. Sometimes you win and sometimes you (feel) like you lose. Let this be a reminder that there is no such thing as failure, as long as you continue to show up. If you do, these basic principles will pay off enormously. When you commit to them, you will be changing your genetic pool and laying new groundwork for a legacy of those to come. It’s THAT important.