Heart Training is Better

As our children enter the world we begin thinking about all the ways we want to mold and shape their lives. We think about the sports they will play or the music they will enjoy—everything all the way down to the foods they will eat. From the time we notice how the different foods they eat change the look of the diapers we change, we know that what they eat must make a difference.


Food recommendations have changed through the years. First we were to avoid eggs altogether, then we were to eat only the whites of the eggs and now we know that eggs contain both good and bad cholesterol. Whether you eat white bread, wheat bread or go gluten free on bread is up to you. Enjoy your breakfast.


The warnings often cite heart disease as the reason for changing your eating habits. Use 2% or 1% milk because whole milk has too much fat for your heart. Eat less red meat. Eat no red meat. Everything is about your heart and how to keep it beating and healthy.


Children begin life eating what their parents feed them. From mother’s milk (still the overwhelming recommendation) to pureed fresh vegetables, we hold them, feed them and then play airplane with them trying to get the right food down the hatch.


Some parents waste valuable energy controlling what is in the refrigerator and what goes into their child’s diet. I wouldn’t say that we should offer them the worst; I would just suggest that there is a better place to invest our energy as we teach our children how to take care of their own bodies. It still begins with the heart.


Rather than working to plan menus or spend all our time with nutritional information on the things we choose to offer them, why not work instead to train them to choose well when they open the refrigerator? Train the heart of your child to want what it good instead of spoon-feeding them from limited choices.


I remember the time our kids discovered that there was white bread in the world. They had never been served anything but wheat bread. Then they went to a friend’s house who served the dreaded white bread option. They were amazed. You can’t trust your friends to honor your wishes. Neither can you control what is served in restaurants or sold in stores. Rather than try to retain the illusion that unhealthy choices don’t exist in the world, teach your child to make healthy choices instead.


I would recommend helping them notice how foods make them feel. Too much food makes us miserable. Too many sweets make us hyper. They can learn to regulate how they feel, how they perform and how much they weigh by controlling what they put in their mouths.


Heart training works for attitudes, habits and behaviors of all kinds. Rather than trying to control our child’s environment from the outside, help them control their lives from the inside. It’s how the Creator designed us, anyway.

Matt Crain writes weekly for the Sunday newspaper from his Connecting Fathers and Families ministry.