How To Help Your Kids To Make Healthy Choices
Considering it’s difficult to find nutritious meals at schools these days, it’s crucial that you do your due diligence at home to make sure your kids learn the importance of making healthy choices early on in life. Obesity rates aside (more than 12 million kids in the U.S. are obese), a staggering 91 percent have poor diets, and less than half get the suggested 60 minutes of activity per day. Instead of making your kids feel like they’re serving a prison sentence, encourage healthful eating by making it educational, fun, and creative.
Involve Your Kids
Making all the decisions on what your family eats eliminates the opportunity for your kids to get jazzed about healthy food. If you involve your kids in meal planning and take them with you on grocery trips, it’s likely that they’ll be more invested in what they’re eating — just make sure you skip the middle aisles at the grocery store, as that’s where all the processed food lurks. There’s a stigma that healthy food is more expensive than less nutritious items. While that may be true in some cases, the truth is, it’s easier than ever to feed your family without breaking the bank. Stock up on staples like steel cut oats, beans, brown rice, and whole grain pasta that can be used as nutritious meal bases. Cut back on meat costs by having a meatless Monday each week — breakfast for dinner (think eggs and a healthy version of French toast) is a fun alternative to vegetarian dishes. Read store flyers so you can buy in bulk and freeze if necessary. Buy fruits and vegetables in season, as they’ll always be less expensive.
Take A Food Field Trip
If you live near a farm (or farmer’s market) where fruits, veggies, and dairy products are available, show your kids where their food comes from — straight from the source. Not only is this an opportunity to learn about the importance of eating locally and supporting small farms, but it also opens a window of opportunity for kids to try their hand at picking their own produce (depends upon the farm) and/or grow something at home under your supervision and guidance.
Keep Healthy Snacks On-Hand
By removing junk food and processed treats from your home, you’re removing the temptation to eat them. Instead, keep the pantry and fridge stocked with healthy snacks. Some ideas include low-calorie popcorn, sliced apples and peanut butter, carrots and hummus, whole grain crackers, and string cheese — just make sure you have options that your kids picked out, too.
Provide The Freedom Of Choice
You’re a parent, not a short order cook, so don’t get caught up in making different meals to appease everyone in your family. Instead, prepare deconstructed meals that create an interactive experience while pleasing everyone’s palate, such as a taco or pasta bar that offers a base meal with separate toppings and sauces.
Encourage At-Home Learning
From cooking classes to lessons on measurement and the science behind baking, there are numerous online resources geared toward kids that can help them get excited about healthy eating while teaching them life skills at the same time.
In order for your kids to adapt to a healthier style of eating, you’re going to have to lead by example. Studies show that children’s tastes in food are closely related to their mother’s likes and dislikes. If your kids aren’t jazzed by healthy fare at first, give it some time. It takes an average of five to 10 times to get used to a new type of food or style of eating, so hang in there.
Written by Amanda Henderson
Photo Credit: Pixabay