Nov 8, 2017, 10:05:24 AM CST Feb 3, 2023, 4:53:12 PM CST

Eating healthier by eating together

Tamika and Tanaya learn healthy habits in Get Up & Go

woman holding shopping basket full of healthy foods woman holding shopping basket full of healthy foods

Things have changed since Tamika was a child. Back then, she says making healthy choices wasn’t a priority. “Granny didn’t allow us in the kitchen,” she remembers. “This generation is much wiser, though.” Her daughter Tanaya is a great example. Since graduating from Get Up & Go, by Children’s Health℠, she has encouraged her entire family to rethink their eating and exercise habits.

Tanaya was born at 9 pounds, 8 ounces, and ever since then, Tamika says her daughter has struggled with up-and-down weight issues. Concerned that these issues could lead to childhood obesity and chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes, Tanaya’s pediatrician referred her to the weight management program offered by Children’s Health.

Today, she and her family are feeling better, eating healthier and spending more time together.

Making the time to eat right

Prior to participating in Get Up & Go, Tamika would find herself in a fast food drive-through lane every day, sometimes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The time-crunched family would often eat on the go, rarely sitting down together around the table. Like most teenagers, Tanaya also spent a lot of time on her cell phone. These daily habits can have negative health effects, and the physicians and dietitians at Children’s Health strive to offer a new model for mealtimes.

Tamika and Tanaya started the Get Up & Go program in August 2017. Since graduating, they have taken cooking classes to learn new healthy habits. The two have completely cut out fast food by shopping in the produce aisles and eating together as a family, with their phones powered down at mealtimes.

“I didn’t know that you could make an entire meal from ingredients found in the vegetable section,” laughs Tamika. Before making zucchini quesadillas at their first cooking class, she did not know what a garlic bulb looked like or the difference between zucchini and cucumber. Now, with fresh produce in the kitchen, Tanaya’s favorite meal is baked chicken with broccoli or pretty much any green vegetable.

In addition to cutting back on processed foods, Tamika and Tanaya learned how to pay attention to portion sizes, read food labels and make simple food swaps, such as whole wheat bread instead of white, and drinking water instead of juice.

“We learned that ingredients make a big difference,” says Tamika. “We learned how to eat right every day, and we were motivated to make better choices and get moving.”

Taking steps to get healthier together

Tamika says that out of all the program’s benefits, the best part was that it made their relationship as mother and daughter stronger.

It was Tanaya who coaxed her family into tackling the challenge together. “She would say, ‘Come on, Mom. We have to do this together,’” Tamika says. Through the program, everyone in the house became closer, resulting in healthier relationships and healthier bodies.

As part of their daily routine, the mother-daughter team takes daily walks, and Tanaya and her brother play basketball outside. Tanaya tracks her steps and strives for 10,000 each day. She has lost seven pounds in six weeks, has more energy and feels better about herself.

“When a child notices that they are a different size than others, it’s hard,” Tamika says. “Kids can be cruel. Now Tanaya is motivated to run and play basketball, and no matter what size she is, she can be herself.”

When asked about advice for other families considering making a change, Tamika encourages moms to be good role models and approach weight loss as a team. The long-term health benefits are undeniable but being brought closer together as a family was immeasurable.

Learn More

Interested in learning more about healthier habits for your family? Read more about pediatric weight management programs that include Get Up & Go, COACH, bariatrics and nutrition clinics.

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