With the endless amount of fast-foods, processed, and high-sugar, high-fat foods, the task of getting children to eating healthily becomes more challenging for parents. It just seems so easy to give your child a chocolate rather then getting him or her to eat those pesky vegetables. It’s not an impossible battle, however. Here are some tips to help introduce healthy eating practices to your kids.
Have meals or snacks WITHOUT the tv – Countless studies have shown that eating while watching tv contributes to overweight and obesity. Therefore, make it a point to eat dinner together and to have snacks in the kitchen. This helps the child to build healthy psychological relationships with food by focusing his or her attention on exactly what it should be – food!
Make fruits and vegetables fun – Children are all about fun and games so try to find ways that make these options look more interesting. Use peanut butter and raisins on celery sticks and pretend that they are ants walking on a log. Use your favorite fruits like strawberries and bananas and mix them with low-fat yogurt to make a smoothie. Your child will believe it’s a milkshake!
Make rules about junk food – It’s unrealistic to expect kids to not have ANY cookies, ice cream, or crisps. Just like anything else that goes on at home, set boundaries for these foods too. For example, a rule can be that ice cream or candy is only allowed on Wednesdays and Saturdays. This way, children look forward to special occasions rather than expect junk food every day.
Get kids involved with food preparation – This is a great way to not only have your kids learn about different foods, but it lets them be part of the process. (Another form of playing and having fun!) For example, make your own whole-wheat pizza and have your kids draw a face on the pizza with colorful vegetables.
Exercise – Children should be involved in some form of activity for a minimum of 1 hour per day. Encourage them to engage in their favorite sport and get them involved with dance. Or just simply make them go outside instead of spending time on the computer or in front of the tv.
Don’t forget YOU are the role model – The adage “Do as I say and not as I do” is not a very good tool for getting your kids to make healthy life changes. If you don’t exercise, if you eat in front of the tv, if you eat junk every day, there is a good chance your kids will too. Make eating healthy and exercising a family mission instead of ordering your kids to do it.
Here are some great websites that can help you with healthy recipes for kids and other neat games and nutrition tools:
As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.