Adults teach children valuable life lessons by modeling positive behavior. Showing your kids the importance of choosing healthy foods is as important as imparting good morals and the need to look both ways before crossing the street. It’s an important lifestyle pattern that children need to establish early in life. It’s very easy to assume that kids should consume things like yogurts, cereals, and fruit drinks with high sugar content. You can break this unhealthy cycle by remembering that kids learn unhealthy behaviors just as they can learn to make healthy choices. Admittedly, it’s difficult to get kids to eat vegetables and whole grains, but there are strategies that can make it a little easier to accomplish.
The stakes are high: Kids who don’t learn to make healthy dietary choices are considerably more likely to develop diabetes, struggle with high blood pressure, and be at higher risk for cancer than those who grow up eating fruit, vegetables, and other healthy foods.
Read on for tips from Kefi Mind to learn how you can help your children make healthier choices.
Control Food Portions
Large amounts of healthy foods can actually do more harm than good. When you train your children to eat right, ensure that their meals are well portioned. A kitchen scale can help by accurately displaying the weight of the food.
Be a Good Dietary Role Model
No matter how well-intentioned or determined you are, there’s very little chance your children will eat vegetables if they see you digging into a bag of Fritos. You don’t have to give long-winded speeches or lecture about the nutritional benefits of protein and fish – very few kids respond well to lectures from their parents. Let them see you enjoying carrots and potatoes, and you just might find them checking it out for themselves. And don’t let working from home throw off your game. You can still enjoy healthy, quick and satisfying meals that keep you full and show your kids that convenience comes in many forms.
Sneak Them In
There’s nothing wrong with sneaking a few vegetables into your children’s dinner. When you make a casserole or a stew in the crock pot, add some broccoli, peas, or sliced carrots underneath meat or noodles so your kids don’t “see them coming” but experience vegetables honestly and assess it objectively. Sliced zucchini or mushrooms are easy enough to conceal in your spaghetti sauce, a favorite dish of many children.
Eat Out Less Often
Studies show that people are more likely to eat healthy, well-balanced meals if they prepare them at home and eat together as a family. Food prepared in restaurants often contains unhealthy amounts of sugar and saturated fats, including ingredients that are easy to substitute or dispense with entirely when you eat at home. It can be a difficult pattern to change: Everybody enjoys having a good meal out every now and then, but it’s a worthwhile change to make when your children’s well-being is at stake.
Add Some Fruit
If your kids resist eating salads and green, leafy vegetables, try adding in some sliced strawberries, kiwi, oranges, or sliced apples so that it includes a delicious and familiar taste in a food they would otherwise never willingly try.
Substitute Healthy Snacks
Offer fruit and pure, unprocessed fruit juices that have a sweet but delicious taste instead of soft drinks and potato chips. If your kids like waffles, make sure to include some berries or peaches. You can also prepare vegetables in ways that give them a sweet, appealing taste. A summer salad includes sliced tomato, cucumber, and purple onion mixed together in a sweet and sour dressing. Further emphasize the healthy food message by not using cookies and candy as rewards for children who exhibit good behavior.
Though proper diet is vital, exercise should also be included in your children’s health regimen. Focus on activities that your children love or would be interested in trying, rather than doing a set of jumping jacks. Involving the whole family and some friends is also an excellent motivator. Any games that get the heart pumping, such as Twister or jump rope, are good choices. A popular go-to for physical activity is participating in a sport; make sure you choose the right equipment by reading online reviews and comparisons.
Obesity and all of its related problems have reached near-epidemic proportions in the United States. It’s the result of a pattern of behavior furthered by the omnipresence of processed foods and the prevalence of sugar in American foods. Setting an example of good dietary choices may be the only truly effective way to set children on the path to a healthy life.
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