Do these promises sound familiar?
“When I have kids, I’ll never let them eat XYZ.”
“My kids will always eat whatever I put in front of them.”
“Our family will never eat out all the time.”
We’ve all said them at some point in our lives and, whether we’ve started a family or are still in the process of building one, we’ve probably all broken those same promises! We read the books. We talk to other parents. We watch all the educational programs. And, the truth we universally learn is that raising healthy kids is hard work! Between getting them to eat healthy foods and encouraging them to get enough exercise, it’s a full-time job. So, what can we do to make it simpler? Let’s get back to basics and look at 3 tips that can get our kids on track to healthy living.
- FOOD CHOICES—DON’T FEED THE ADDICTION
Perhaps the easiest way to help kids make better food choices is to control what food is stocked in your home. If your pantry is full of sugary (albeit delicious) foods, then guess what the little humans in your home are going to eat when they are hungry (or bored)? Sugar is addictive and so the habit of reaching for food filled with this ingredient a by-product of this addiction. Remove the sugar-filled food and like Ole Mother Hubbard, when they go to fetch a sugar snack, they’ll find the cupboard is bare. Replace the sugar-filled food with granola bars, low-fat chips, easily-accessible cut-up fruits and veggies, yogurt, etc. and they’ll learn to grab these healthier options when they are hungry!
- BE A ROLE MODEL—SHOW UP AND SHOW OUT
The folks under your roof tend to watch what you do. They watch what you eat and why you eat it. Be a role model for your people and make smart food choices regarding the type of food you put on your plate and how much of it you consume. If you are always eating high-fat, high-calorie, fast food then guess what they assume is the right things to eat? Did you know those eyes are also watching WHY you eat? If you use food to help you de-stress or when you are sad, they will follow your example. Do you assign your feelings of happiness to food? You will have kids who will think food makes them happy. Make sure that how you behave around food points those who are closely watching you towards healthy actions.
- INVOLVE THEM—PLAN, MAKE, MOVE
Make kids a part of the decision-making process for meals during the week. Children will be more likely to eat the food you place in front of them if they get to help plan out some of the meals. Make a “Family Favorites” list that everyone gets to contribute a couple ideas towards whether it’s favorite breakfasts, dinners, or even snacks. Next, ask the idea-generator to assist in making that food choice for the family. Having a hand in creating the meal gets you buy-in from your assistant. Finally, get everyone up and moving whether it’s to visit a new park after school, take an after-dinner walk, or go exploring on some local trails over the weekend. Move together and you’ll make memories as you do it!
You can start building healthy kids by following these 3 simple tips. By stocking your home with healthy food choices, being a food-behavior model, and involving your family in planning, making, and moving, you will find yourself on the path to success!
Here are some useful links to help you take the first steps towards raising healthy kids.