Every parent wants their child to grow up and be healthy. Teaching healthy habits is a real challenge in our society, but it is doable. It all starts with you.
Let’s face it: keeping healthy in America requires willpower. We are constantly bombarded by advertisements for tempting, unhealthy and processed food. Just like kids learn that the other gender has cooties, they hear that vegetables are gross (poor broccoli gets a bad rap on the playground!) While at the same time, increased use of computers, TVs, tablets, iPhones, and other electronics tempt us to stay inside and binge-watch instead of getting outside and getting active.
If we want our children to lead happy, healthy lives, we as parents need to do a good job of breaking through these temptations and showing them the value of healthy living. It doesn’t have to be done from a soap-box lecture or from a ban on junk food however. We can take small steps that will help teach our kids (and remind ourselves along the way) how we can keep our bodies and minds working at their best by living a healthy lifestyle. This month, we’ll take a look at how we can encourage good eating habits, positive physical activity, and how we can lead by example.
Some great tips on raising healthy children from WebMD
On the Table
Let’s talk about diet. This is by far the most important factor to your and your child’s overall health. We need to face a key fact: Most food marketed to kids has no nutritional value whatsoever. Capri Sun? Sugar juice. Cookie Crip? Really? Stocking your pantry with supposedly “kid friendly” food will be not the way to go. You’ll have to take measured steps to do a better than this.
Breakfast: the most important meal of the day. Seriously though, it really is. This is what your kids’ energy will be running on from the time they wake up until they can have lunch. Load it up with a small amount of whole grains (whole wheat toast, oatmeal, a whole grain cereal), a little protein (small amount of peanut butter, eggs, beans if you’re adventurous), and some fruit to get their energy up.
Lunch: School lunches have come a long way in recent years in terms of trying to offer healthy options. Unfortunately, most are still woefully insufficient. Packing a healthier lunch will save you money and lead to better healthy eating habits. I recently did a blog post on packing healthy lunches for you and your kids.
Dinner: Whipping up a healthy dinner for the family can certainly be a daunting task, especially when time is limited. Thankfully, there are many other parents out there with the same dilemma. That’s why I’ve included a bunch of quick and easy healthy weeknight dinner options in the link below:
Snacks: many parents walk up and down the snack aisle and grab whatever they think their kids will find tasty. This form of appeasement won’t work very well towards providing healthy snacks. There are some very reasonable options you can get at the grocery store however that kids will still find tasty.
Check out this list of healthy store-bought snack options
If you have a little more time, you can make some healthy snacks at home
Out the Door
Now that you’ve given your children healthy foods and shown them how to eat right, it’s time to use that energy and do some activity! For younger children, creating an active playtime is key. Don’t just sit down and let them play. Get up and engage with your children. Show them how to hopscotch or shoot hoops, jump on one foot, whatever! It doesn’t really matter, just get moving with them. This will help keep you more fit too! (Maybe even some of that youth will rub off on you J )
Everything can be an adventure. A walk down the neighborhood could be a search for a dragon’s lair, or a bike ride around could be a great race. Use your imagination to help boost the creativity and imagination of your kids during activities.
Sports are always a great way to encourage physical activity. Sign up for something they’re interested in, and be there for them! Watch the games and cheer, help them practice at home. Sports are great for building active lifestyles, and teach lots of other great values like teamwork and competition.
Leading by example
One of the most important things I can tell you as a doctor is that your children will have most of the same habits that you do when it comes to being healthy. If you don’t take care of yourself by eating right and getting rewarding exercise, your children will not learn that behavior. Many of the overweight and unhealthy children in this country are that way because their parents were unable to take care of themselves and pass on healthy habits. Lead by example, and your kids will follow suit.
Best wishes for a happy and healthy March,