Written by Ashwin Dewan and published on 23 July 2021.
Children pick up what their parents do from an early age. If a child is shown the importance of exercise and a healthy diet from the beginning, it will only serve to his advantage later.
For a child, her world revolves around her parents. Everything that they do makes an impact on her. Therefore, the role of parents shouldn't end with providing for and looking after their children. It is important that they always act responsibly and be good role models.
In an exclusive interview with ParentCircle, holistic nutritionist, Luke Coutinho talks about why it is important for a father to be an ideal role model for his child, especially when it comes to adopting a healthy lifestyle.
1. How can a father aspire to be the ideal role model for his child?
A lot of parents advise their children on the right way to do things - how to eat, what to wear, which exercise to do, etc. However, the best way is to lead by example. If you want your child to eat vegetables, you start eating vegetables. Do not use force or try to punish your child for not following your instructions. It will only lead to revolt. Remember that children are observing us all the time.
You may be busy with work but if you make an effort to stay healthy, your child will follow your example and pick up your habit. As far as a healthy diet is concerned, start by limiting sugar and processed foods in your diet first and the child will follow. How can the child be expected to follow if the father himself is eating an unhealthy diet?
2. How can a father increase his child's health quotient?
We need to understand that health quotient is not only about food. It is about activity, inculcating the right sleep habits, the right lifestyle, how much time children spend watching television and on gadgets, etc. Getting children outdoors for any activity is ideal for their holistic development. Consider all these parameters while raising a child.
3. How important are diet and exercise for the health of a father?
They are very important. If you want to play and enjoy quality time with your child, you need to exercise and follow the right diet. It all begins with the parent first. If the father is unhealthy and on medication, it will affect the children.
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4. Is regular health check-up an important part of being a parent?
It is. Personally, I prefer visiting a general physician than going to the hospital. A family physician looks at you holistically and considers every little detail from what you eat to how much you sleep. If you are leading a healthy life, you should not fear medical problems and family history. If my parents are diabetics, it does not mean I will also get diabetes. It simply means I have a high possibility of getting it. But, if I follow the right lifestyle, I may still be able to beat the disease. We should stop blaming our genes and rather, make changes to our lifestyle.
5. Should fathers increase their physical activity with each passing year?
Absolutely. Today, people blame lack of exercise on many factors like time, work and travel. It does not matter how much you travel. You can walk at the airport or even do push-ups and squats in the hotel room. It does not matter how busy your schedule is - you can simply take 10 or 20 minutes of your time to work out. The busier we get, the more active should we be. If we get sedentary, we will invite lifestyle-related diseases for sure.
6. Does something as simple as walking help a father remain fit and healthy?
Yes, it does. Over the last couple of years, more than 16,000 patients have come to us for weight loss. I look at my data and find that people who have successfully maintained weight are those who have been walking regularly. Yes, it can certainly keep you fit and healthy.
7. Working out regularly can boost your mood. Agree or disagree?
I completely agree. Working out has been shown to release happy hormones. One of the first things we recommend to our customers is a 40-minute workout as we know that exercise makes people feel better. Initially, people start with 30 minutes and gradually increase their workout to an hour.
8. Should one make significant changes to his diet after becoming a father to stay fit and healthy?
Irrespective of whether one is a father or not, one should make changes to the diet. It is the small changes that make a big impression. A diet is personal and should make the person feel good. However, if a diet makes a person feel deprived, it means the diet is not working out. One should also not cut down on certain foods like sugar and processed items immediately, but the process should be gradual.
9. Any message to the readers of ParentCircle?
We, as parents, remain busy with work. Whether it be preparing for a meeting or catching a flight, we are hard-pressed for time. However, if we want, we can always spend quality time with our children. Remember, it is not about quantity but quality. In my case, I try to give undivided time to my daughter.
Also, never hesitate to ask for forgiveness if you get angry in front of your children. This activity teaches children the qualities of forgiveness and tolerance. Little things matter, and it will help our children in the long run.
With inputs from Luke Coutinho, Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine - Holistic Nutrition and Founder - PureNutrition.me