Up until two years ago, Layla Hardy’s life had revolved around one thing: food.
“Everything I did was about eating,” said Hardy. “There was never a meal that I skipped, and between meals there was always some sort of snack in my hand.”
Even the way Hardy had been raising her children was centered on food.
“The time I spent with my kids, trying to bond with them, was always over food. We would go out for ice cream, or I would take them to go get a hamburger somewhere. That was the way I connected with my children.”
Mindsets like that helped inspire Wednesday’s health seminar For the Health of It: A New Beginning for Your Family, hosted by the Healthy Beginnings collaboration at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.
The collaboration comprises United Way of Hall County, Hall County Family Connection Network, Vision 2030, Good News Clinics, Gainesville Parks and Recreation and Northeast Georgia Medical Center and aims to educate the caregivers of children under age 5 on how to help children start making healthy lifestyle choices.
“We saw a lot that was happening to teach school-aged children about healthy choices already, but we couldn’t find a lot that was happening for very young children,” said Jackie Wallace, president of United Way of Hall County.
When the HBO documentary “The Weight of the Nation” came out this spring, Wallace said it was “a natural springboard” to organize a seminar on helping families, particularly with young children, live healthier lifestyles.
“We’re trying to help people start thinking about the implications of not making healthy choices. It’s really something for the whole family to be involved in. It’s a lifestyle,” said Wallace.
The seminar included video segments on childhood obesity from “The Weight of the Nation” documentary and an expert panel who discussed the consequences of being overweight and how to start making healthy lifestyle choices. The collaboration also provided a spread of nutritious snacks for sampling.
Hardy, whose life took a turn for the better after losing 90 pounds, says she is a living example of how life is best healthy.
“My children and I go on walks or head to the playground together now instead of to some burger joint. I didn’t want them to grow up eating how I was, and that’s when I knew I had to make a change. I love coming to events like this because I can never know too much about encouraging my kids early on about how to live well and live long,” she said.
Another For the Health of It seminar will be held on Nov. 15 at Gainesville State College’s continuing education building in Gainesville. Refreshments start at 5 p.m., and the program begins at 5:30 p.m.