We have a newborn at our house! She is just over 2 months old, and already we are thinking about how to encourage her to lead a healthy lifestyle. We get messages from our clients who say they have a hard time keeping junk food out of their own temptation’s way “because of the children.” Kids will eat what they are used to eating. With the way junk foods are designed & manufactured, they become addictive right away. By providing mostly healthy snacks, children are more likely to make those same choices on their own as they grow. I understand the importance of having some convenience items on hand for kids, but try to keep them as an exception rather than the rule.
The best way to raise health-minded kids is to lead by example. To raise health-minded children, we must behave like health-minded adults.
- Purchase & prepare fresh fruit & vegetables for easy grab & go snacks. Kids usually love carrots, snap peas, apple slices (slice right before eating), celery sticks (with almond butter),
- Let the kids see you eating fresh produce, too!
- Prepare one meal that everyone eats together. Avoid being a short order cook in your own home.
- Assign kids an age-appropriate task to help with the meal preparation. They love being a part of the process!
- To avoid mealtime battles, never force a child to eat any particular food. Encourage trying new foods with just a bite or two (“One bite for you and one bite for me.”), but if the child doesn’t like the item, they shouldn’t be forced to eat it.
- Keep introducing new foods, and food items that your child previously didn’t like. Taste buds mature over time and they may decide they like it this time!
- Keep the healthier choices in easy sight and reach. Keep treats hidden from plain view.
- Stay active with your kids. It is great to go to the gym on your own, but they don’t generally get to see what you are up to there. Go on family walks or bike rides. Kick around a soccer ball. Practice hitting a ball with a bat. The more you are active, the more likely your kids will stay active as teens and adults.
- Browse Pinterest for kid-friendly snacks and meals that the whole family would enjoy.
Ultimately, it all becomes a matter of what is regularly done in your house. If your kids are regularly exposed to healthy food choices and lots of physical activity, then they will continue that practice as they grow older. Even if they stray for a little while, they will return because it is part of who they are! As with everything, practice, practice, practice!