I think we can agree that it’s not always easy teaching children to make healthy choices and have good habits. So… What’s a parent to do? Keep reading to learn more tips from our founder, Miles Carrington.
Teaching your children to be healthy begins by creating good habits and healthy choices without being too obvious about it. After all, many kids will turn up their nose in disgust if you mention that something is healthy! It isn’t uncommon for kids to push aside healthy options for the “fun” foods, which are heavily promoted through television and aggressive marketing campaigns.
Children will choose to eat healthy food if you’re patient and give them some gentle encouragement. This is a process that takes time and creativity. There are plenty of healthy foods that your kids can learn to enjoy, so this is simply a matter of making gradual changes and allowing their taste buds to adjust with time. Making small changes to their normal routine is key.
Follow these tips to help your child make healthy choices that will last a lifetime:
1. Have Healthy Foods Ready and Easy to Grab in The Kitchen
Stock your kitchen with fruits, vegetables, complex starches, yogurt, and lean protein. By default you are changing your child’s food choices simply because you are limiting the availability of “junk food” and increasing the availability of “healthy foods”.
Kids need a snack to eat after school. I remember my Mom had portioned snacks ready for us when we got home. My sister and I always looked forward to our after school snack of the day, as it was a treat and a way for our family to bond. Try having healthy and easy snacks ready for your kids.
Consider making a smoothie with yogurt and fruit, baked tortilla chips and salsa, sliced apple with peanut butter, string cheese and crackers, yogurt with granola, or saltless pretzels with peanuts.
2. Put Your Kids in Charge of Packing Their Own Lunch
Make a rule that when your kid enters 5th grade they are responsible for making their own lunch and can pack anything they want as long as they pack food from all of the food groups.
By the time my sister and I were in the 5th grade, the anticipation of “being in charge” of our own lunch made us really want to do it. It was a win-win because we felt grown-up and our mother didn’t have to pack lunch!
3. Involve Your Children in Making the Grocery Shopping List
Explain that they are allowed to choose one “treat” and besides that they have to choose their fruit, yogurt, bread, cereal, and type of lunch meat. They can then use these foods to pack their own lunches!
Growing up, we always had a pad of paper with the grocery list hanging on the fridge. I remember being able to write down one treat I wanted every week, as well as the other foods that I wanted for my school lunch.
I was given the responsibility of making food decisions for myself, which definitely helped me develop into a responsible adult.
4. Make Physical Activity a Part of Your Family’s Routine
Be active yourself and share your activity with your kids. You can play with them and have fun with football, cycling, skating, and swimming. Being more active as a family will improve physical and emotional health. Help your kids to find activities that they enjoy by showing them different possibilities and encouraging them to try new things.
5. Have Your Entire Family Take Part in Preparing and Planning Family Meals
The more your kids can participate in family meals, the better choices they will be willing to make. Healthy eating is a family project and everyone should get involved. You can begin by choosing one night a week when the entire family can come together to eat.
Teaching children to be healthy can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Taking advantage of these tricks is a great way to teach your kids healthy habits. Making sure that they have access to good food options is important, but not the only thing that you can do to encourage them to eat healthy.