Parents have a major role in their children’s nutrition. While TV commercials and peer pressure have a great influence on children and their unhealthy eating habits, there are steps that parents can take to instill healthy eating habits. Providing healthy options for your kids you can stabilize energy, mood, brain development and provide them the best opportunity to grow into healthy adults.
Here are 7 tips to get you started!
1. Be a role model. Children will develop their eating habits based on what the parents are consuming. Don’t ask or force your child into eating a vegetable or fruit that you may not be eating yourself. Make it fun and involve the whole family in the lifestyle!
2. Make food fun for the kids and get them in the kitchen! Bring the kids along to the grocery store and ask them to pick out a vegetable or fruit that they want to eat. This will involve the child into the process and will get them more excited to try something they picked. Or if possible, grow a vegetable and fruit garden. Kids are more likely to try something that they’ve planted and grown themselves. In addition, look for fun kid friendly recipes that you could incorporate and ask them to help you make the recipe (Pinterest is great for this)!
3. Start the day with a healthy breakfast. Starting your day with a balanced breakfast that consist of protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates sets the tone for the day not only for children but the adults as well. It also refuels the body and gives you the energy you need to tackle the day fully energized.
4. Cook more meals at home. When you cook at home you are in control of how the food is prepared and portioned. Proper nutrients and portion control has a major influence on the child’s daily eating habits.
5. Eat the rainbow. Every day pick a color from the rainbow and teach your child that today is “Red” day. This will make it fun and playful for the child knowing that they need to eat their color of the day.
6. Make healthy snacks available. Keep plenty of fruit, vegetables and healthy beverages (water, milk, fresh squeezed fruit juice) in the house so kids avoid unhealthy snacks such as chips, processed juices, soda and cookies. A recommended healthy snack banana and peanut butter “sandwiches”. Cut the bananas into little chunks and sandwich natural (not Skippys!) peanut butter in between. Kids love these!
7. Plan accordingly. Planning is the key to success! Schedule 15 minutes a week to plan out your meals for the upcoming week. This avoids last minute unhealthy decisions. Incorporate the children in this decision by allowing them to plan and pick one meal. You can also dedicate each day of the week to a specific food group. For example, Monday - ‘Mango Monday’, Tuesday - “Taco Tuesday”, Wednesday - “Watermelon Wednesday”, Thursday - “Tomato Thursday”, etc. Whichever you chose, incorporate that option into a meal or snack that day.
Remember that eating healthy isn’t a chore, it is a lifestyle that paves the path for your children’s overall health in the future!