I joined a HENRY programme because I was unsure how to apply healthy eating principles to my children. Breastfeeding worked to its own schedule and portion size – I just followed baby’s cues. But after that I really didn’t know how to feed my children healthily.
Making sense of all the advertising and advice you are given as a parent was a nightmare. Any help was welcome. I needed some sound guidance rather than just my instinct to feel confident that I was doing the right thing. I also wanted more unbiased information to help resolve differences of opinion – in particular with excessive portion sizes given by the kids’ grandparents.
I learnt so much! It was exactly what I needed and more.
In particular I learned to treat healthy snacks as a valid part of daily food intake and not as a stop gap or treat. I learnt about portion size and decided to start using smaller plates at home. Not using food as a reward or for bargaining, was quite tricky to begin with, but was ultimately a really beneficial change for us all. The parenting aspects of the course really hit home too – family rewards, sticker charts, lots of praise, descriptive guidance and so on. Having these all presented in a clear way, with practical examples and group discussion gave me confidence in these ideas, some of which I was beginning to use at home already.
I have seen so many positive changes in my life! Mealtimes are more peaceful and civilized. I sit with the children at the table and we all have dinner together. The small plates suit the children better. There seems to be less food waste and they are eating to their appetite, rather than overriding it. I realised that I was deeply rooted in the ‘finish your dinner’ mentality. It’s the same for snacking between meals which I always thought was bad – but actually is healthy with the right foods. I would also always end up eating sweeties just because they were available. I realized these habits around food were actually not the healthiest thing for me, and I certainly didn’t want that for my children. I now know how to prevent my children developing these habits. I also avoid processed foods much more now than I did before.
The children’s behaviour has improved a lot. We listen more, and keep our calm. Using guided choices rather than clash of opinions has helped our children understand why a certain action is needed. I’m now able to challenge their grandparents on how they feed my children – I’ve definitely noticed that they ask me my opinion and second guess my judgement less than before.
I’m now supporting other families with young children as a HENRY Parent Champion. I am running a playgroup jointly with another Mum who also completed the HENRY course. The group already promotes healthy eating and positive parenting through the activities provided, encouraging parents to be positive healthy role models. We plan to have a monthly HENRY activity within the group and we’re publicising local events including HENRY programmes and organized walks.
I’m so glad to have got involved with HENRY. In addition to the lifestyle information, I have made new friends and am enjoying the experience and challenge of volunteering. When my youngest starts school, I know that I will have the confidence to get back into work after 7 years of being a full-time mum. I’m not sure I would have done without HENRY.
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