I visited a sweet little family a little while back in Estonia. The father of the family gifted the mother a session with a nutritionist with their whole family to help them work on their nutritional habits. The family also had a child with type I diabetes. The session was very wholesome and the time flew by. We looked over the foods they were eating, their eating habits as a family and individually, and focused on their needs and possibilities in regards to how to change their diets. Although the family was already pretty healthy and knowledgeable of their eating habits, some changes were still made mostly in the proportions of different food groups. Everyone seemed to be happy with the results!
A lot of nutritionists offer the possibility to come to a session with the whole family. The whole family's support is super beneficial when one or more people in the family need to lose weight or change their diet due to other health reasons. In my own practice, I've heard a lot of clients being worried about things like “Do I have to start making my own separate meals now? Where would I find the time for that” etc.. But no, nutritionists can help you find ways to practically change your own and your family's diet. For example, when one of the members of the family is vegetarian, you can make the bigger batch of food vegetarian and then add meat or seafood on the side.
In regards to weight loss, family counselling is actually even necessary for all sides. Oftentimes, what happens in families or with partners is codependency, where in the same household, people tend to grow similar habits, so when one person gains weight, often the others around them could do so as well. Us humans tend to take over the habits of people around us, so it's completely normal when that happens, especially within couples who start living together. Therefore in order to lose weight, it's important to have support from the people we live together with and that they actually understand our journey.
Finishing our toddlers' food is also a factor of codependency. Sounds familiar? Why do parents feel the need to clean up the food after our kids? In cases like this, I usually dive deeper into the patient's eating habits. How is their relationship with food? How often do the family sit down and eat together? What kind of example do we give to our kids in regards to food? Often teenagers go to their room to eat alone, so how do us parents make the effort to sit down and eat together properly as a family?
When we are kids, we eat when we are hungry and stop when we are full. Unless we were forced to finish off our plate while talking about starving people in Africa or other strange excuses and reasonings. Children eat intuitively, according to the examples or environment they grow up in. As parents, we need to provide a healthy example and availability of healthy foods to choose from so our children can learn about foods without feeling pressured. But often parents tend to try and “fix” children's eating behaviours but then actually having the opposite effect. And when the child does not learn healthy eating behaviours at home, they will definitely be impacted by their peers when going to school.
We can argue that our situation in Estonia is not as bad as it is in the United States, where family nutritional counselling is gaining popularity rapidly. But then we need to ask - why is every fourth child in the first grade overweight? Generally, an obese child will grow up to be an obese adult. Instead of dealing with the consequences, we should already be doing preventive work with children, learning about their relationship with food & the habits they have.
We strongly advise you to book a session with a nutritionist and come along with your whole family or partner. A nutritionist can help you build new healthy habits according to your current lifestyle, income and family values. They will help you through your worries, work on the positives and help you develop a supportive diet & meal plan. A nutritionist will guide you or your whole family step by step. There is nothing to be afraid of. Everyone will benefit from taking a few steps towards a healthier future, even better when doing it together with the people you love.