Nowadays, it seems like children are surrounded by unhealthy food everywhere they go. School lunches are rarely nutritious, most "children's menu" items at restaurants are fried or otherwise unhealthy comfort food, T.V is constantly promoting candy, and even "healthier items" like juices and granola bars are packed with sugar. That creates an environment where, reinforcing healthy habits for your children is not an easy task, especially if you have a busy schedule.
However, embedding a healthy lifestyle should start at an early age, to aid in the proper development of their body and brain. The sooner you start to care for your health, the easier it will be for your children to adopt the same habits. It's much easier to stick to healthy habits when we're introduced to them young and our immediate environment follows those same habits as well - but it becomes increasingly harder to change those habits later on.
Here are a few actionable tactics you can follow to help develop the right habits for your children:
- Cook The Same Meal For Everyone. Let go of the idea that you should cook a different meal for your kids. Kids don't have to grow up eating chicken nuggets and french fries - and they shouldn't. Choose and cook a healthy meal for your whole family, and your children won't learn to expect something different. At the same time, don't try to force your children to eat healthy when they see the adults in the house eating a contradictory diet. A healthy meal that is sure to please the entire family? These Veggie Fajitas Tacos.
- Let Them Help In The Kitchen. This might be a tough one depending on a child's temperament but try to involve your kids in the food preparation process so they're more excited to indulge in the finished product. Encourage your child to help you prepare dinner by doing simple and safe tasks like washing vegetables and measuring ingredients. If they're interested, allow them to taste each piece that goes into the meal before it's a finished product to appreciate every aspect of it. Dr. Sebi's "Owl" Blueberry Pancakes is an easy dish you can prepare together which also has a playful appearance.
- Make Healthier Versions Of Their Favorite Treats. Teach your kids that just because something is good for them, doesn't mean that it has to imply boring or tasteless meals. Experiment with making a healthier version of their favorite treats. For example, these healthy "Caramel" Apples, are a great dessert, and the Chickpea Nuggets are even better than their original counterparts!
- Be Prepared With Healthy Snacks. Just as is true in the case of you planning ahead with healthy snacks, to prevent unhealthy eating on busy days, the same is true with your children. If you have a tight schedule and your young ones are picky eaters, it can be very hard to get them to eat a healthy meal. Also, if they have after-school activities, they might need a lot of extra energy that shouldn't come from candy bars or sugary drinks. Be prepared at all times with great snack options, such as chopped fruit and vegetables, fresh smoothies, or banana chips.
- Lead By Example. The best way you can ensure your kids follow a healthy path all through their life is by doing so yourself. Children learn not by what you say, but by what they see you do, so make sure your habits are top-notch and they see that.
If you want to start teaching healthy habits to your kids, The Health Guardians is a great place to start!