I’m still reading Weight Watchers’ Eat! Move! Play! I told you about a week or two ago.  It’s terrific and gives you a lot to think about.

P is almost four and absolutely average all the way around: average height, average weight, average eating habits.  With the exception of the adorable Buddha belly she gets after eating especially well, there isn’t too much fat on this specimen of mine.

That was not the case for me at her age.  All pictures of me from the earliest of ages show me chubby.  Not gaspingly so, but chubby nonetheless.  Had my mom been a scrapbooker, “Don’t worry she’ll grow out of it, it’s baby fat” would have been an apt page title at any stage of my development.

Turns out the baby fat didn’t magically melt away when I hit the double digits and springboarded into puberty.  To the contrary, my baby fat morphed into teen fat, ballooned into adult fat, which led to “now I’m having a baby” fat and “when will I lose my pregnancy weight” fat.    In hindsight, my only HEALTHY skinny days were Army days and I had people with guns “weighing” in on my lifestyle, scale and activity level.  Historically speaking, fear has been the number one weight loss tool for me.

My fat days far outnumber my not-fat days and there is no disputing , it has had an emotional and mental affect on me.  I don’t want to deal P the same hand.  I’m definitely aware of P’s weight and development and I count myself lucky that she falls in the middle of those worry-inducing charts at the pediatrician’s office.  I spent the first year nursing her and biting my nails wondering if she was gaining enough and now I worry that M&Ms have become one of her main food groups.

Like everything in parenting, it is all about BALANCE.  I like EAT! MOVE! PLAY! for this reason. The overriding sentiment is that you don’t have to be the food nazi: overly restrictive with your kid’s diet to the point of refusal from them and exhaustion for you.  A healthy family can be achieved with simply balancing her choices, and MINE come to think of it!

Reading thru the first Chapter, I like how the book spells out the FIVE SIMPLE RULES to develop a family-based healthier lifestyle.  Simple because they are all things we know we should be doing, but things that are so easy to forget when time is stretched too thin and life is just too crazy.

The first? FOCUS ON WHOLESOME, NUTRITUOUS FOODS

I remember when P was just starting solids.  Oh how she loved each and every vegetable we gave her.  I thought to myself “WOW! She is going to be such a healthy kid – look at how she’s chowing down on that squash!”  Of course, I overlooked the fact that in comparison to nothing but breast milk her entire life (6 months that is), pureed beets and strained prunes probably seemed like a trip to Willy Wonka for her.

Today veggies do get eaten, perhaps not with the same enthusiasm we once saw and occasionally we must resort to bribery, but at least she’s willing for the most part.  The key for me is to treat her plate like I try to treat mine and fill it 2/3 full of veggies.  We love those Birdseye Steamfresh veggies – they are fresh tasting and easy; and because they are frozen, you don’t have to worry about rotting vegetables in your crisper if you don’t use them up in time.

One thing I need to work on is getting more whole grains into my diet and my family’s.  Lets face it, we were raised on Wonder Bread and darn it, that processed stuff is what I’m used to.  But P is a blank canvas right now – if I do it right, she need never have fond Wonder Bread memories.  She’ll think bread is always brown and bumpy.  It’s me who needs convincing!

I think the best approach on this whole grains business is to take it slow.  I did try Bulgar Wheat a couple weeks ago for the first time at The Party Source and I loved it.  Kind of a cross between rice and couscous I would say.  We’re introducing that to our diet as soon as I have 20-25 minutes to prepare it one of these nights.

So tell me, what is your favorite whole grain?  How do you prepare it?

Meanwhile, while you’re in the health-mode, take a look at another tasty recipe from the cookbook:

Smart Bars

Serves 32
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 20 minutes

1 cup quick-cooking oats
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup toasted wheat germ
½ cup dried apricots
½ cup pecan halves
½ cup raisins
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup instant nonfat dry milk
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 maple syrup
2 large eggs
1 ripe banana
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

1.       Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Coat a 9 × 13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray.

2.       Combine the oats, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, apricots, pecans, raisins, cranberries, dry milk, flour, and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped. Add the syrup, eggs, banana, and vanilla and pulse until well combined.

3.       Transfer the mixture to the pan, wet your fingertips with cool water, and press down to level the surface. Bake until the mixture is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 20 minutes.

4.       Cool in the pan and cut into 32 bars.

Per serving (1 bar): 83 Cal, 3 g Fat, 0 g Sat Fat, 0 g Trans Fat, 14 mg Chol, 11 mg Sod, 12 g Carb, 2 g Fib, 3 g Prot, 27 mg Calc.

Kids Can…Peel the banana, then moisten their hands and use their fingertips to press the bar mixture into the pan as evenly as possible.

Tune in next week when we take a look at Chapter Two: Discovering Your Parenting Style.  Should be interesting.  A co-worker asked me a while back what my parenting method was.  My response? THE  SURVIVAL METHOD

*Photo and recipe for Smart Bars reprinted from the book Weight Watchers¹ Eat! Move! Play! With permission from John Wiley & Sons Inc.