What Energy Balance Means for a Family

by Estela Schnelle | July 30, 2013 at 2:11 pm | comments

With my two girls out of school for the summer, we have been finding & creating many activities to fill our days. In some odd way, I am finding that we are actually busier in the summer than the school year. This is where energy balance comes in.

As an ambassador for the Together Counts Program, I feel energy balance plays a key role in a healthy and active family lifestyle.  Being both a mom and a Registered Dietitian I know that finding and maintaining that balance starts from the inside out. The energy balance of a family starts with the parents and trickles down to the children. Healthy and active parents equal a healthy and active family. Here are four ways to find and maintain a positive energy balance for your family.

1)      Eat a balanced diet. As a Dietitian, I cannot stress how important this is. I know firsthand how hectic life can be, so having nutritious food in the house and planning balanced meals is key. We need to start taking care of ourselves and be kind to our body. At least once a week, sit down as a family and talk about what wholesome food you like and plan meals together. Include whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins like chicken, fish, or meat. Get your kids in the kitchen and find ways they can help prepare meals, and eat together as a family as often as possible. The more we involve our children in meal planning, the more likely they will eat the food or meals they helped create.

2)      Eat Mindfully with Portion Control. Eating mindfully means listening to our body and eating when we are hungry and stopping when we our satisfied. This is where portion control comes in. Listening to our body and eating when it tells us it needs food (though hunger pangs or a grumbling belly) is when it’s time to eat. I talk to my daughters about this all the time. When we sit down to eat, we have what I call “tummy talk”. We talk about how our tummy feels when it’s hungry, how our tummy feels when we are eating, and how our tummy feels when it is full. This helps kids recognize the difference between mindful eating (eating when our tummy says it’s hungry) and mindless eating (eating out of boredom or emotion).

3)      Daily Physical Activity. Physical activity is key in order to maintain energy balance. Try to include at least thirty minutes or more per day of physical activity with your kids. This is quality family time. These include family bike rides, walks, playing the backyard, kicking a soccer ball around the grass, or playing indoor hopscotch (my girls favorite) if it’s raining outside.

4)      “Me” Time. As a mom, I cannot stress how import “me” time is. With our lives getting busier by the second, I find it crucial to schedule time for myself every single day. For me, it means anything from twenty minutes of reading a favorite book, going to an exercise class, getting a pedicure, or even something as simple as waking up before the kid’s and enjoying a quiet cup of coffee all by myself. Having the “me” time makes me a better mother.

For me, finding & creating energy balance not only makes me a better person, but also a better mother to my kid’s, and wife to my husband. If find I am at my best when I take care of myself from the inside out. The happier I am, the happier my family is, and the more balanced we are.

Estela Schnelle is a Registered Dietitian, Ambassador for Together Counts, mother of two girls, and editor of the blog Weekly Bite.

For more balance ideas, check out the more of the Together CountsTM program resources here: